‘This was truly a freak accident’: Lubbock bronc rider killed in rodeo accident

26-year-old Skee Burkes died from his injuries in an accident at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene.
Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 9:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:50 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock bronc rider died in a rodeo accident at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene on Sept. 9. Now, his family is sharing the story of his life and how they hope to use his name to help others in rodeo.

26-year-old Skee Burkes was bucked off a horse and died from his injuries. His mother, Dee Ann Littlefield, said he was a man of many talents: working as an oilfield supervisor, making custom leatherwork, riding horses and even singing on stage at Blue Light.

“He looked forward to every day because of something the day might bring, and he would get more out of every day than any one of us would get out of a single week,” Dee Ann said.

Dee Ann said his big personality carried into everything he did and he was a friend to everyone. His sister, Kalico Burkes says she has heard so many stories of how Skee went above and beyond for others.

“Everyone saying he’s one of a kind, he was one of a kind just solidifies everything that we knew about him,” Kalico said.

Bronc riding was always a passion of his. Kalico said he would pretend to bronc ride as a kid and later it turned into reality.

“But I think once he got older, he had such long legs I think that’s when he started thinking, ‘Oh I think I can bronc ride,’” Kalico said.

He is from Henrietta, Texas which is about 20 miles Southeast of Wichita Falls. That’s where he got on his first ranch bronc in high school, making it a special place for him for the rest of his life.

“He wrote about coming out of chute number four is his favorite place in Texas,” Dee Ann said.

About six years ago, he moved to Lubbock.

Dee Ann said the West Texas Fair & Rodeo night was going to be a normal ride for Skee and this tragedy doesn’t reflect how he rode or who he was.

“He had been doing this for 10 years,” Dee Ann said. “He has won a lot of belt buckles bronc riding; he was an incredible horseman...this was truly a freak accident.”

Dee Ann wasn’t there that night and found out from a phone call that he had been kicked in the head.

“As a mom, your children are tethered to your heart and your soul, and I felt him gone,” Dee Ann said. “I felt him gone then.”

Later, Dee Ann found out he was bucked off and the horse stepped on his head.

Kalico said she heard the rodeo continued because that is what Skee would have wanted.

“I agree I think that Skee would have wanted the show to go on and everyone to continue to honor him,” Kalico said.

Dee Ann and Kalico have turned to their faith to help them get through this time.

“Skee’s actually gone from this Earth but he’s gone on to serve an even bigger purpose and he really is still here with all of us,” Dee Ann said.

The West Texas Fair & Rodeo and Taylor County Expo Center Board of Directors has set up a fundraiser for Skee Burkes’ family. You can donate here.

A family friend is also hosting a fundraiser at Prosperity Bank in Henrietta called Skee Burkes Memorial Fund.

Dee Ann says the money will go toward funeral expenses and anything leftover will be put toward a rodeo scholarship in his honor.