15-year-old male died from injuries after a bull landed on him

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FARMINGTON — Defendants involved in a lawsuit regarding the death of a 15-year-old male who died from injuries after a bull landed on him have largely denied the accusations.

A complaint was filed on March 19 in Santa Fe District Court by members of Brandon Charley's family and a representative of his estate alleging organizations or individuals associated with a Navajo Nation Jr. Bull Riders Association competition on Oct. 1, 2016, were negligent in the death of Charley.

The lawsuit seeks an unknown amount of money for punitive and compensatory damages.

Four answers to the complaint have been filed by the defendants with the most recent filling made on July 11 by TJ Begay, the owner of the bull WhooWee.

The complaint focused on what allegedly occurred when Charley entered a junior bull riding competition set on the private property of Christine and Reggie Begay in Fruitland.

Charley drew WhooWee to ride. The bull had resisted attempts to turn its head toward the opening of the chute.

WhooWee bucked as soon as the gate opened as Charley exited the chute.

After exiting the chute, Charley allegedly became hung up on the bull after he started fall off the bull. WhooWee landed on Charley on the animal's fourth jump.

The complaint states there were no ambulance or emergency medical technicians on site, and vehicles had to be moved when an ambulance arrived on scene to get access to Charley.

He died that afternoon, after it took 30 minutes to transport Charley to San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Reggie and Christine Begay responded to the lawsuit on May 31, stating they denied liability as they were not owners of the property, and admit allegations Charley became hung up on WhooWee.

They largely denied allegations in the complaint, stating they are without information or knowledge to reply to the allegations.

The response by the National Junior Bull Riders Association filed on May 2 follows a similar pattern of denying allegations by stating they did not have knowledge or information to determine if allegations are true or false.  

The National Junior Bull Riders Association also states if the parents signed a release and waiver of liability prior to taking part in the event, that may bar claims against the organization.

The response filed by the Navajo Nation Junior Bull Riders Association, and its CEOs Frederick and Edith Snyder on June 13 has the most allegations admitted to of the four responses.

It states the Navajo Nation Junior Bull Riders Association had a duty of "ordinary care" to keep Charley and other participants safe from injury or harm.

The response admits Whoowee bucked as soon as the gate opened, that Charley became hung up on Whoowee and that the bull fell and landed Charley.

It also states Christine and Reggie Begay owned and controlled the premises where the bull riding event was held.

The response claims the defendants are not liable for the behavior of animals involved in rodeo activities.

In TJ Begay's response filed on July 11, he admits to entering WhooWee into the junior division but denies the bull had been previously sanctioned for senior bull riding categories.

He also denies any negligence of Charley's injuries and requests the complaint be dismissed.

A scheduling conference is scheduled for Sept. 9 in Santa Fe District Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

More: Family files lawsuit in death of teen at bull riding event

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