Ashley Virden, 17, was critically injured in a horseback riding accident southeast of Ballinger early in the evening Tuesday. According to a several sources familiar with the accident, Virden was an accomplished rodeo barrel racer and was practicing for the Coleman Junior Rodeo scheduled for August 1st and 2nd when the accident happened. Virden was to be a senior at Ballinger High School.
After the accident Tuesday, Virden’s father called 911 and Runnells County Sheriff responded with EMS. She was evacuated to Shannon via air ambulance helicopter, Airmed1.
Big Country Home Page in Abilene reported that Virden remains on life support at Shannon. “The horse then stepped on the back of her head, which has left Ashley in serious condition due to the resulting brain trauma and swelling,” KTAB reported early Wednesday evening.
BallingerNews.com editor Cinnamon Carter said that the whole town of Ballinger is reeling from the recent deaths of youth from that town. “What cloud has settled over us?” she asked. “Everybody is kind of in shock. They don’t know what to say.”
This is the third tragedy to hit Ballinger in three weeks. Brooke Abney, a young mother, and Ballinger High School alum, was killed in a crash on U.S. 67 near Miles on July 13. The driver of the truck that collided with her was driven by Ballinger High alum Evan Wilson.
Taylor Bowman was killed two weeks ago when her SUV was involved in a rollover crash near Ballinger. Bowman would have been a junior at Ballinger High School.
The community center has been open all day long for the kids. Pizza Hut donated pizza, Carter said.
“My husband is the principal at Ballinger, and I’m sure we’ll have to address all of this. Plans are being made to transition into the new school year,” she said.
“There are no words to express the grief. The mood is very heavy in town,” she said.