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Riverview High students cope with loss of friend killed in bull-riding accident

RIVERVIEW — Grief counselors were available Monday at Riverview High School to help students cope with the death of a friend.

Brooke Coats died Friday after a bull threw her off his back and kicked her in the chest. She was 16. She loved bull riding and was active in other sports at school, said Linda Cobbe, a Hillsborough County schools spokeswoman.

At the school of 2,175 students, Coats had friends from many different groups. She was a good student with an interest in agriculture and drama. The junior played tennis and swam for the high school team, Cobbe said.

"She was very well-rounded," Cobbe said. "She was very well-liked."

Students are figuring out how best to honor their friend, but for now they will pay tribute to Coats in their school's memorial garden, established over the years as students were lost in car crashes and other tragedies.

A Facebook group called "R.I.P Brooke Coats, you will always be missed, we love you!" had nearly 200 members by Monday.

On Friday, Coats was at Crosstown Arena rings at Corey Costa's Remington Rough Stock Co., a bull-riding arena just north of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway on U.S. 301. Her parents watched from the bleachers. One of them signed a liability waiver acknowledging the risks, said Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Coats wore a helmet and protective vest. But the bull bucked her from its back before kicking her in the chest. She was able to walk out of the ring, but soon collapsed and had trouble breathing. An ambulance took her to the hospital for surgery. She died about 10 p.m.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating by reviewing licensing issues, permitting and safety regulations, McKinnon said.

Services for Coats will be open only to friends and family at Stowers Funeral Home, 401 W Brandon Blvd., at (813) 689-1211.

The visitation is Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral is Thursday at 10 a.m. in the chapel.

The burial follows at Hillsboro Memorial Gardens, 2323 W Brandon Blvd.

Riverview High students cope with loss of friend killed in bull-riding accident 02/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 11:53am]
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