Jaime Alvarez, 46, sustained the harrowing injury during the final stages of Sunday morning’s run, the first of the 2019 festival of San Fermin. He underwent 2 1/2 hours of surgery and remained hospitalized on Tuesday in serious condition. He was recovering “favorably,” according to a statement on the regional Navarra government’s website.
The lawyer said he thought the coast was clear to take a selfie video of his completion of the 875-meter course through the city to the bullring when a bull unexpectedly charged at him and plunged its horn into the right side of his neck.
“The joy and excitement of being in the bullring quickly turned into a scare, into real fear for my life,” Alvarez told the Associated Press. “In the course of a few seconds, a million thoughts came to my mind, and that of dying was definitely one of them.”
Alvarez acknowledged to AP that he’d gotten swept up in the atmosphere of the festival, which is attended by up to 1 million tourists each year. He also admitted to ignoring the wishes of his wife and daughter, who hadn’t wanted him to participate in the run. The family had been on its way to watch Alvarez’s son play in a soccer tournament elsewhere in Spain.
Taking photographs on the course is actually illegal. A runner in 2014 faced a $4,100 fine after snapping a selfie with a bull.
Aaron Froelicher, 23, from Florence, Kentucky, was gored in the thigh during Sunday’s run, as was a 40-year-old from the La Rioja region of Spain. They both remain hospitalized. Three other men required hospital treatment following the inaugural run of the year.
Four people — including a 48-year-old American identified only by the initials GP — were injured in Monday’s run. Two people, including a 42-year-old Chicago man named as TGE, were injured on Tuesday.
The controversial annual festival, which is condemned by animal rights activists, takes place from July 6-14. Six bulls chase hundreds of runners through the city (from their corral to the bullring) at 8 a.m. local time each day. Since 1910, some 15 people have died while taking part in the event.