12-year-old girl dies in tragic rodeo accident after horse collapses

ADRIAN, Mo. -- A 12-year-old Missouri girl died after she was crushed during a tragic rodeo accident over the weekend, officials confirmed Monday.

Kalee Chandler was riding in a rodeo in Adrian, Mo. when her horse collapsed, pinning her. Chandler, an experienced rider, was competing in a barrel racing event, a competition that requires a high level of horseback riding skill, one that her family says she loved.

“She was running on the way home from the third barrel, and he kind of sped up, which is kind of unusual at the finish line, and she was trying to pull him up,” said Toni Samples, a longtime family friend.

Ruth Walter organized the benefit barrel race Saturday night to benefit the veterans on Armed Forces Day. She said during the event, Kalee's horse crashed into the gates pinning her to the ground.

Editor's note: After this report aired, WDAF learned that Kalee had died:

“I heard the crash, and I went running down there, and as I was running down I was dialing 911,” Walter told WDAF.

Samples said Kalee was pinned for some time before the horse could be lifted off of her.

“We tried to get her out from underneath the horse,” Samples said. “Then they finally got her out from underneath him, the saddle off, and they pulled her out and she was pretty lifeless.”

Walter said the show was shut down immediately and there were paramedics there giving Kalee CPR.

“It's tough because that little girl reminds me of my granddaughter,” Walter added. “It's heartbreaking.”

Samples said her daughter and Kalee are the same age and are good friends, and said the whole thing was hard to watch.

“Fearing the worst that could happen, it was very heart-wrenching to see everybody, her dad, and you know, I couldn't see her, she was underneath him. He's a very large horse, and he never moved,” Samples recalled.

“There's no way it could have been prevented. I'm tearing myself up, I can't sleep at night, thinking... what could we have done to prevent it? You just can't,” said Walter.

Mullinax Funeral Home and Cremation Services announced on Monday afternoon that Kalee had passed away.