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19-Year-Old Rodeo Performer Tossed Off Horse, Trampled to Death in Front of Parents and 2,200 in Attendance

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"It’s hard to imagine why something like this had to happen but we have faith that God is in control."

PILESGROVE, N.J. (TheBlaze/AP) -- New Jersey authorities say a horse tossed a teenage rodeo performer off its back in front of a crowd of thousands and then trampled him to death on Saturday night.

Nineteen-year-old bareback rider Coy Lutz was trampled at the Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove, about 35 miles southwest of Philadelphia. The Howard, Pennsylvania, resident died shortly afterward at a hospital.

Lutz, a criminal justice major at the University of Tennessee at Martin, had recently completed his freshman year; he played on the school's rodeo team, according to WCAU-TV.

"Coy was just an outstanding kid who had a real bright future," University of Tennessee at Martin coach John Luthi said in a statement. “He was a good student and he came from a great family. Even though he was only here for one year, his impact will always be felt here at UT Martin."

Luthi went on to say that Lutz's death was hard to process.

"It’s hard to imagine why something like this had to happen but we have faith that God is in control," Luthi continued.

Cowtown Rodeo owner Grant Harris told NJ.com this was the first time a rodeo participant had died from injuries suffered in the event. He says Lutz's parents were among the crowd of 2,200 attending the rodeo and they witnessed the accident.

Harris says the horse Lutz was riding tossed him and then stepped on him several times.

Cowtown touts itself as the oldest weekly running rodeo in the U.S. It opened in 1929.

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