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Cowboy makes miraculous recovery after nasty fall

By Sarah Smith

A Colorado bull rider survived a grisly fall Saturday night that sent spectators running for the exits at the Jokela ProWest PBR ride.

Cody Lane Johansen, 20, appeared dead when his body hit the ground after being thrown by a bull at the 36th annual Professional Bull Riders event in Park Rapids, the last night of the show.

His body twitching spasmodically, Johansen was taken by ambulance to the Park Rapids airport and airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

“My mouth is pretty chewed up,” he said in a hospital interview Monday morning. He was awaiting brain tests to determine how severe his concussion was and trying to determine if he would make the circuit this weekend.

He thought the bull’s horn had grazed his lip, so he was having some difficulty speaking. “It hit me right in the cheek,” he said of the bull’s horn.

He passed all the concussion and brain activity tests Monday and said he’ll be back on the saddle.

But his biggest disappointment – he cannot ride this weekend.

“I have to wait two weeks,” he said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. He was still waiting to see if he’d have to spend Monday night in the hospital.

He was anxious to get going, get on with his life.

He hurt his shoulder, in addition to his head, and was comatose until Sunday.

He discusses this like it was his last meal.

“I was down for a day and woke up Sunday,” he said casually.

Injuries are par for the course for a kid who started mutton riding at age three, and progressed to cows by the ripe old age of five.

“I just worked my way up from there,” he said.

He’s been in the Professional Bull Riders circuit for four years.

It’s a hard way to earn a living. The top purse at the Jokela event was $11,484.

When asked if this was enough to risk his life, he responded, “Sure!

“They told me I stopped breathing in the helicopter,” he said, switching subjects. “I’m taking some seizure meds.”

But doctors had taken him off those medications by Monday afternoon and he was seizure-free.

Unlike many riders, Cody wore a cowboy hat, not a helmet. He said he’s not about to change now, even though this wasn’t the first head injury he received.

He thanked all the Park Rapids fans for their concern and prayers and seemed surprised at the outpouring of affection for hm.

His injury overshadowed a broken leg to one of his fellow competitors, two riders later in the competition. That man, who was not identified by the BR due to chaos over Johansen’s injury, was taken to CHI St. Joseph’s Health in Park Rapids.

Cody says he doubts this was the worst head injury he’s had. Four months ago he broke a collarbone and received head injuries. He said that’s why it appeared this time like he was hurt worse than he was.

He was glad for the opportunity to be taken to a hospital where he could be checked out.

His lungs collapsed. No big deal, he says. His buddies have been filling him with tales from his ride and all the others Saturday.

Some fans e-mailed the Enterprise to say they were praying for Cody, but that his injury saddened them so much they went home.

“We saw this from up-close last night and it was absolutely horrible!  It made the rest of the event difficult to watch and we left early,” e-mailed one attendant.

He’ll head back to Kersey, Colo., to heal, then get back up on the bull.

Some of his family flew here to be with him and joined him at the hospital.

The two-week rest may be good for him. Whether he likes it or not.

The fall detracted from an otherwise successful event. Promoter Randy Jokela had wrestled for years on whether to move the event from the July 4th weekend.

Crowds Thursday weren’t overflowing, but they were on the weekend at the Double J Arena in Park Rapids.

The dances after the bull rides on all three nights, called the “After Party” events in memory of Lorraine Jokela, Randy’s mother, were well attended.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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