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Rodeo dream destroyed by deadly tornado

It took 16 years for Tom Brinley to build his dream of a successful horse ranch, but it was destroyed in less than a minute.

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SANFORD, N.C. — Chad Brinley's father spent 16 years turning his love of horses into a successful business that specializes in training and selling the animals.

"What dad's turned it into is remarkable," Brinley said of his father, Tom Brinley, who owns Misty Creek Ranch in Sanford. "It's just sad to see that it can be gone in less than a minute."

Like so many others, the Brinleys fell victim to a deadly tornado that ripped through Lee County on April 16.

Eleven horses at Misty Creek died as a result of injuries they received, and a covered show arena that hosted rodeos on a regular basis was destroyed at the property, off Avent Ferry Road.

It was a dream for Tom Brinley.

"We'd have a concession stand set up, and my mom and her friends would be making burgers," Chad Brinley says.

Now, memories and piles of twisted steel remain where that arena once stood.

The barn is still standing, although the roof is gone.

The horses inside survived, but many that were in open pastures when the storm hit were injured by large pieces of debris from the storm.

Many of those injuries were fatal.

Twenty horses did survive, but several are still being treated for injuries.

The family says it took a dream and lifetime of labor and love to create Misty Creek, and they aren't sure if they can do it all again.

"There's a lot of emotions and a lot of time," Chad Brinley said. "This isn't something you rebuild overnight."

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Tara Lynn, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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