Oilfields, Turner Valley mourn loss of new friend

Foothills: Youth killed at bucking school

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 02:13 pm

Ben Steiger, 16, of Turner Valley, died after being bucked off a horse at a rodeo school in Thorsby.
Ben Steiger, 16, of Turner Valley, died after being bucked off a horse at a rodeo school in Thorsby.

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The Oilfields High School community is mourning the loss of a first-year Driller who was killed in a tragic rodeo mishap.

Ben Steiger, 16, of Turner Valley, was killed shortly after coming out of the chutes while attending a rodeo school at the Thorsby Haymaker Center in Thorsby Saturday.

A Thorsby RCMP report said a horse struck the youth.

Steiger was a popular student is his first year at Oilfields High School in Black Diamond.

“This is the first year we have had Ben and he was incredibly well liked by adults and kids,” said Oilfields High School principal Scott Carey.

Carey said the Grade 10 student had lived in Calgary prior to moving to the Turner Valley area this year.

“I think he wanted to do the rural thing and the rodeo thing,” Carey said.

He quickly fit in to the Oilfields Driller lifestyle.

“He was one of those zest-for-life kind of kids,” Carey said. “He was there to add smiles on his peers’ faces and if they had frowns, he took them away.”

Steiger was a member of the Oilfields Drillers JV basketball team. Although he might not have led the team in scoring, he was a leader when it came to energy and hustle, said Drillers JV coach Jamie Maksymich.

“I remember the first free throw he ever sank, he went to the line and he was just so excited that he was under the rim to catch the basketball before the ball even hit the rim,” Maksymich said.

“He just loved being out there. He was the type of kid that he would shoot at one end of the court and be down at the other end before anyone else.

“He just worked so hard… this was his first-year playing and it was phenomenal how far he came. He was one of the hardest workers I ever coached.”

Steiger’s enthusiasm rubbed off on his teammates.

“He loved being around his friends and he loved playing basketball,” Maksymich said.

Dave Shields Sr. from Okotoks was one of the instructors at the rodeo school in Thorsby. He said the incident was a “freak accident.”

“There was nothing spectacular about it,” said Shields. “It was a freak accident in the horse-riding event (saddle bronc). You could count on one hand how many bronc riders have been killed in rodeo.”

Shields was sitting beside Steiger’s father, Turner Valley veterinarian, Wayne Steiger, just before his son died.

“I have known Dr. Steiger for about four years, but I had not met his son until the rodeo school this weekend,” Shields said. “He seemed like a great kid. He was loving what he was doing and enjoying life.”

Shields, who was elected to the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2009, said a helmet would not have made any difference.

“Helmets had nothing to do with this accident,” Shields said. “It wasn’t a head injury.”

Thorsby RCMP responded to a call of an injured male at around 4:45 p.m. When police and EMS services arrived at the scene, members of the public were trying to revive the youth through CPR. STARS air ambulance also attended the scene. Steiger died at the Haymaker center.

Carey said the students at Oilfields have been amazing in handling the loss of their friend.

“We have got the gamut of emotions, but it is healthy,” Carey said. “We have our crisis response team in place through FSD (Foothills School Division) so we have extra hands on deck, but the students are clearly here for each other.”

Carey said he and the division is keeping an eye on the staff in the close-knit school community.

“I credit my staff,” Carey said. “They are relationship-first which makes it tough in these kind of times.”


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