MERRITT, B.C. — It's news that has come as a major shock to the rodeo community, and has left hundreds mourning the loss of one of its youngest superstars.
Merritt bull rider Ty Pozzobon died suddenly on Monday at the age of 25. Condolences to the Pozzobon family have been pouring in non-stop on social media, from throughout North America and around the world.
WATCH: Full report by Chad Klassen
Pozzobon grew up in the Nicola Valley, where he was well known and highly respected. His devotion to family and friends, his keen sense of spirit, and his genuine and outgoing personality are being remembered by those who knew him.
"Always eager, always doing his best, made others around him feel good. Very unique character," says Kurt Christopherson, Pozzobon's teacher and principal from kindergarten to Grade 6 at Nicola Canford Elementary. "We always knew he was going to find something interesting to do with his life, and he did."
Pozzobon was the 2016 Pro Bull Riders Canada champion, and finished fourth at the 2016 Professional Bull Riders world finals in Las Vegas in November.
But he was more than just a tough, gritty bull rider. Christopherson says Pozzobon was one of a kind, those kids that you remember --- and a very determined individual.
"Ty always set goals for himself," says Christopherson. "Didn't really make a big deal of it. It was just part of his personality. He wasn't the kind of kid that went around bragging. He just went out and did it."
That kind of determination got him to where he did in bull riding. Neil Menard, the mayor of Merritt, had a ranch across the river from the Pozzobons in the Sunshine Valley.
Menard got to know Ty well growing up. He says Ty never forgot about his roots and made Merritt proud, and he will leave a definite hole in the community.
"He grew up here. He was rodeo, he was hockey, so to this community he became 'Mr. Rodeo.'"
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