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Oct 5, 2020

Popular Cowboy Dies from COVID-19 Complications

Kent Smith

The COVID-19 related deaths are now at thirty; the weekend victims are from Corozal, Orange Walk and Unitedville, in the west. Kent Smith is the latest to die from the virus; he is a veteran cowboy and long-time fixture at the rodeo shows of the National Agriculture and Trade Show. Smith, according to the Ministry of Health, was hospitalized at the K.H.M.H.’s Intensive Care Unit and was having heart complications from when he arrived at the hospital. The ministry says that Smith’s diagnosis was made upon his admission to the I.C.U.  Today, we spoke with Smith’s family and a fellow cowboy to learn more about him. Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Fifty-nine-year-old Kent Smith, an enduring and well-known figure in Belize’s rodeo circuit, died from complications due to COVID19. Two weeks ago, Smith began to exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19. When he fell ill he was hospitalized for fourteen days. Smith had several pre-existing conditions. He died on Sunday.


On the Phone: Audrey Smith, Sister of Deceased

“He had high blood pressure and a heart problem and then they found out he had diabetes, so, we don’t know if that land him in the hospital. He was suffering from some breathing problems when they took him to the hospital.”


Andrea Polanco

“And ever since he was hospitalized – what was it like for him – was he showing signs of recovery or was it always a fight against that virus?”


On the Phone: Audrey Smith

“Well, when he got to the hospital on the Saturday the Sunday he was put on the machine. A couple times they said that he was improving and all of a sudden he was showing that he wasn’t getting any better, he was getting worse.”


Kent Smith, a resident of Unitedville, has been involved in rodeo for more than forty years. He is hailed as one of the long time rodeo figures. Over the years he has helped to organize countless rodeo shows in Belize, including at the National Agriculture and Trade Show. Colleague and Close friend Joe Friesen Junior says the cowboys in Belize have lost a hero.


Joe Friesen Jr., Colleague & Friend of Deceased

“Mr. Kent is one of the most famous cowboys in Belize. He has been in the rodeos since I could remember when I was a little boy. He was in the rodeo and a star of the rodeo. So, we will miss him dearly because he was always there running the rodeo for many years and I know him as one of the most famous cowboys in Belize.”


Andrea Polanco

“Was he still riding in his older years, as well?”


Joe Friesen Jr.

Joe Friesen Jr.

“He was still riding until two weeks ago. He was still riding his horse until his very last days.  He has impacted many of us cowboys. He was a role model and a hero to all of us.”


Friesen fondly remembers one of his encounters with cowboy Smith many years ago.


Joe Friesen Jr.

“One time I remembered I was roping a cow and we had a little accident going on because I tried to rope the cow and neva ketch the cow and the rope drop on the ground and another cow came and stepped in the rope and got caught in the rope and I dropped from the horse and I got knocked out and Kent came to my rescue. He said, ‘Joe, where are you going? I was lost because I got hit in my head and I was a little bit unconscious for a while but Kent has always been there and when I roped cows he has always been there when I was in trouble and he has always been there for me.”


Andrea Polanco

“What do you think he loved about that life?”


Joe Friesen Jr.

“I believe he had a passion for cowboy life. He loved the life we lived and all of us cowboys we love our sport and we love the daily life of a cowboy life.”


Smith’s family says he was an active man and he was loved by everyone. They say it is difficult to process considering they have had no contact with him since he was hospitalized and will not be able to give him a personal goodbye for his burial.


On the Phone: Audrey Smith

“My brother was always an active person. Every day he was at his farm. He was always there riding his horse or doing something because he was never someone to depend on other people so he was always doing something for himself. I didn’t see him showing any sign of anything until he started to feel sick. He was active in the rodeo. He was always there for the rodeo as one of the head cowboys. He loved his horse and he used to go to Guatemala to do rodeo and stuff and he was one of the head person doing the rodeo. He will be missed by a whole field of person. He was a nice person, mien. He was so loving to everyone. So, everyone he got in contact with he was like a magnet. It will be hard for everyone, especially his family because from they put him on the machine we couldn’t see him and we couldn’t talk to him and that is the hard part because now that we put to ho rest we will still not be able to see him.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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