Editor’s note: RCMP originally stated the woman who died at the Ponoka Stampede was 30. The woman was in fact 34 and the story has since been corrected.
A woman died while practicing for the opening act at the Ponoka Stampede on Sunday night.
In a news release, RCMP in the central Alberta community said a woman was thrown off her horse, trampled by other horses and died from her injuries. An obituary posted a few days later would state the woman who died was 34-year-old Alicia Jolene McKendrick.
Jason Cline, the president of the Ponoka Stampede, said the tragedy happened during practice time ahead of the opening act.
“It’s an accident and, you know, accidents happen regardless if you’re putting on a rodeo or you’re driving down the highway,” he said Monday.
“It was unforeseen. It was unpreventable at this point — so you just have to work to get past it and do our best to honour the individual and make sure that we’ve got the best safety protocols in place.”
Cline said the death is hard on everyone involved and he became emotional when speaking about it.
“It’s tough. You know, this community is a small community — not just Ponoka, but the equestrian and the rodeo community in general.
“This person, obviously, was an experienced person and it was an accident. And it’s going to take a toll on a lot of people — it probably hasn’t really hit yet today.”
The identity of the woman killed was not released.
Occupational Health and Safety is investigating after a volunteer on horseback fell from the horse and suffered fatal injuries, Labour Ministry spokesperson Roy Dallmann said to Global News.
“OHS has issued a verbal stop-work order to the Ponoka Stampede & Exhibition Association pertaining only to the ‘wild horse’ segment of the grandstand ceremonies,” Dallmann said in a statement.
Both RCMP and the Labour Ministry said due to OHS taking over the case, no further comments would be made.
The annual event in central Alberta began Monday, and is set to run until Saturday.
Ponoka is about 90 kilometres south of Edmonton.