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Friends remember horse trick rider killed in Tucson crash while heading to rodeo

A community is remembering the life of a horse trick rider who was on his way to perform at a rodeo when he was killed in a crash near Tucson.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:33 PM MST
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QUEEN CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The East Valley is mourning the loss of a popular horse trick rider killed in a car crash nearly two weeks ago. Brian Bausch was not just a local celebrity, he was a national and world champion. He even auditioned for America’s Got Talent for his trick roper act. But those who really knew him will remember him for more than his tricks. “He did mounted shooting, he did racing, he did trick riding, roping and ranch roping. He was just so well rounded of a horseman,” said family friend Haley Portonova.

Despite his success, his friends say he always shared his wisdom. “Whether it be about life or riding, there was always something you gained from that conversation,” Portonova said. “He just drew people to him like a magnet,” said Charlie Hill. Hill knew Brian for nine years, but he says it wasn’t nearly long enough. “Brian was just such an impactful person to everybody. He just built relationships in such a healthy way,” he said.

Brian’s life came to an end when troopers say a car veered into his lane and sideswiped his truck, causing it to jackknife and separate from his horse trailer on June 11. He leaves behind his pregnant wife and three kids.

“Paula and Brian have been a huge part of this horse community,” said family friend Jill Starkey. On July 16, Starkey and Portonova are putting on a memorial race where all the proceeds will go to Bausch’s family. The Queen Creek Barrel Racing Association is hosting the event and it will be held at Horseshoe Park in Queen Creek. The races begin at 7 p.m. It’s an event full of all of Bausch’s favorite things. “Our horse community is very strong and this really shows an impact and pulls everyone together,” Starkey said. Starkey hopes it’s a way to show the community is hurting, but healing. “Very impactful to the community, for a long, long time,” said Hill.