The 46-year-old was hoping to snap a shot of the traditional “Running of the Bulls” before the bull’s horn gored him, sinking deep into his neck and fracturing a part of his cheekbone.
Jaime Alvarez was one among hundreds of runners at this year’s San Fermin festival in Pamplona, where massive crowds run alongside bulls in a cobblestone street leading to the bullring.
Alvarez says that he ran most of the 913-yard course ahead of the bulls, but by the time they reached the bullfighting plaza, the animals had caught up with him.
At that stage, Alvarez climbed onto a nearby fence before returning to the arena to shoot a small video as a keepsake. He explained that he wanted “a 5-second video scene to say ‘Here I am, I did it.'”
That’s when a stray bull rapidly came bearing down on him. The bulls that are forced to race in the Pamplona festival usually weigh upwards of 1,300 lbs.
“The impact was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It was like being hit by a car or a truck … It was scary.”
His life was likely saved after another man grabbed him by the arm and rushed him through the crowd to receive aid from paramedics.
Alvarez, who is recovering from surgery and now in stable condition, told the Associated Press:
“The joy and the excitement of being in the bullring quickly turned into a scare, into real fear for my life.
In the course of a few seconds, a million thoughts came to my mind, and that of dying was definitely one of them.”
Alvarez admitted that he had been swept up by the atmosphere of the festival, which regularly draws crowds of up to 1 million tourists.
He also said that he felt guilty about ignoring the wishes of his wife and daughter, who urged him to not take part in the bull run. The family was on their way to a soccer tournament elsewhere in Spain where his son was participating.
Alvarez said he hopes to return to the festival, but this time as a spectator rather than a participant.
The Bay Area attorney was also among around seven people who have been injured this year in the bull run, including a 49-year-old British man whose ankle fracture required surgery, reported France24.
Others who were injured include two other Americans, three Spaniards, and a man who was punctured in the back by a bull’s horn and treated on the scene, according to the Red Cross.
The Pamplona bull run, which takes place from July 6-14, has aroused worldwide controversy because of the cruel treatment of the animals, who are first shocked into taking part in the race before they are tormented in the bullring for the pleasure of onlookers.
Animal rights group PETA claims that at least 48 bulls are killed in the “barbaric bloodbath,” where they suffer a slow death while repeatedly being stabbed.
“During a typical bullfight, several men taunt and stab a bull with harpoon-like banderillas until he becomes weakened from blood loss.
Then, the matador stabs the exhausted animal with a sword, and if the bull doesn’t die straight away, he’ll commonly use a dagger to cut the animal’s spinal cord. Many bulls are paralyzed but still conscious as their ears or tails are cut off as trophies.”
Across Spain and Latin America, support for the bullfights that claim about 7,000 animal lives annually is on the wane. Last year, there were 56 percent fewer official fights in Spain than in 2007.
— RT (@RT_com) July 9, 2019
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