Death during horse-racing event under investigation

GIFFORD — Champaign County authorities are trying to determine what caused the death of a 31-year-old Danville woman who suffered injuries during a barrel racing event at Gordyville USA near Gifford.

Amy Hawker, 31, known as a barrel-racing enthusiast, died Tuesday from a brain injury. The Gordyville USA Turkey Run was held the weekend of Nov. 29-Dec. 1. It is not known what day the injury occurred.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said his office has received conflicting accounts of what happened.

"We were told a horse fell over that she was sitting on, on a concrete pad and she struck her head," Northrup said.

"Somebody else said she was kicked in the head by a bull."

The coroner's office knows only at this point that she sustained a brain injury, Northrup said late Friday afternoon.

He said his office is still following up with the emergency medical crew that responded to a call to Gordyville.

"When they got there, they didn't witness it," Northrup said.

No one at Gordyville USA Friday could provide additional information about the accident.

Ms. Hawker grew up riding her pony and "passionately loved barrel racing," according to her obituary. She competed throughout the Midwest and was a member of the National Barrel Racing Association, the International Barrel Racing Association and the Illinois Barrel Racing Association.

She has a 5-year-old daughter.

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