A La Grande man is recovering better than expected from potentially life-threatening injuries sustained during the Haines Rodeo on July 4.

Robbie DeVore, 21, suffered multiple upper-body and facial injuries that required surgery during saddle bronc riding at the annual rodeo in Haines.

“As of today, he is up walking, which is amazing. It’s absolutely amazing,” his aunt, Amy Ramirez, of Enterprise, told The Observer Sunday.

Ramirez said nobody saw exactly what happened to DeVore during his saddle bronc ride at the rodeo. She said, though, after DeVore fell off during his ride, the horse trampled his chest and then either stepped on or kicked him in the face.

DeVore was transported from the rodeo arena to the hospital in Baker City, then from there LifeFlighted to Boise, Idaho. Ramirez said her nephew has multiple broken ribs, a broken clavicle and a severely broken jaw.

“Thursday night they did surgery on his jaw,” Ramirez said. “The surgeon said it was the worst they had seen other than a gunshot wound. (The bronc-riding incident) severed all the nerves.”

Ramirez said there is some uncertainty as to how well DeVore’s jaw will heal.

“One side should heal,” she said. “The other (side), they said it would be a miracle, which we’re praying for.”

Whether DeVore was kicked in the face or was stepped on, Ramirez said the sustained head injury could have been a lot worse — even fatal.

“(Doctors) said if it had been an inch higher he’d be dead,” she said.

Ramirez said DeVore is lined up for another surgery to repair the broken collarbone today, and he will eventually be transported back to the hospital in La Grande.

“It’s poking through his skin,” she said of the broken clavicle.

DeVore, a Wallowa County native, recently moved to La Grande after a short stint in Ontario, according to Ramirez. He began working at Intermountain Livestock in La Grande roughly six months ago, Ramirez said, and is always around animals.

“As much as he can be, he’s working livestock. He loves it,” Ramirez said of her nephew, also calling him an avid outdoorsman. “He’s had horses for several years.”

He started competing in rodeos in the last couple of years, Ramirez said, and had just competed in the Mountain High Broncs and Bulls Rodeo in Enterprise and the Countdown to Chief Joseph Days Ranch Rodeo, both of which were in late June.

“He’s always loved the ranch rodeos,” Ramirez said. “He goes to the smaller rodeos where they do the ranch bronc (riding). I’m sure if he could go big time, he’d love to.”

A GoFundMe account has been started to help raise funds for DeVore’s medical costs and related expenses. The link to the account is https://www.gofundme.com/hometown-cowboys-recovery.

A donation account for DeVore has also been set up at Umpqua Bank under Ramirez’s name.

Ramirez said DeVore doesn’t currently have health insurance, but she is working to get him on the Oregon Health Plan. She hopes it will retroactively cover the medical costs, which means any funds raised would go toward post-hospital expenses.

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