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A Brush with Death: The Top 10 Worst Accidents in Pamplona’s Bull Run History

So it’s July and there’s only one thing on your mind. You want to feel the rush of the wind in your hair, hear the shouts of the crowd and…the sound of a herd of 1200 pound bulls barreling towards you at top speed? Some call it crazy, but each year thousands of runners and exponentially more onlookers gather in Pamplona, Spain for the traditional Running of the Bulls. Despite its significantly longer history, written records of the event began exactly a century ago and, inspired by the occasion, we decided to delve into the gory details. The imminent danger lies not only in the unpredictability of an angry bull, but also in the risk of being trampled by panicked runners, both of which have caused an estimated 200 injuries and fifteen deaths over the past 100 years. Here are the top ten incidents that caught our attention.

Photo Credit RAFA RIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Robert Fluhr, July 14, 2003
Run Time: 3 minutes
Injuries: 1
Bull Weight: over 1300 lbs

When 28-year-old Floridian Robert Fluhr ran with the bulls, he did everything right. Unfortunately, when he slipped on the cobblestone streets of Pamplona, as many runners do, he was left at the mercy of an angry bull who gored his abdomen, piercing both his colon and bladder. According to Fluhr, the injuries took numerous surgeries and about a year to fully recover from.

Ricardo Giner and Fernando Platero, 7/14/2007
Run Time: 3 minutes
Injuries: 3
Bull Weight: 2 Bulls at 1100 lbs a piece

Ricardo Brufau Giner, 21, of Barcelona, has the misfortune of one of the more humorous injuries bull running has to offer, suffering a goring to the buttocks severe enough to land him in the hospital, but not to damage his good spirits. Fernando Garayoa Platero, 52, of Pamplona, on the other hand was caught and thrown in the air by a second bull, suffering a skill injury which also required hospital care. A third unidentified 30-year-old Spaniard was trampled the same day, sustaining bruises to the abdominal region.

Names Unknown, July 6, 2002
Run Time: 10 minutes
Injuries: 6
Bull Weight: Unknown

In this notably long run, six people sustained injuries meriting hospital care. When several bulls slipped and fell on the wet streets, the run was lengthened significantly. Additionally when the bulls that slipped separated from the herd, the risk to runners increased significantly. Three injuries were reported as a direct result of goring while the remaining three were attributed to the exceptionally crowded streets.

Lawrence and Michael Lenahan, 7/13/2007
Run Time: 6 minutes 9 seconds
Injuries: 13
Bull Weight: 1300 lbs

A bull that separated from the herd simultaneously gored two American brothers, one in the buttocks and one in the leg. Both were taken to the hospital among another 11 injured runners making this the worst day for injuries in that year’s festival.

Names Unknown, July 8, 2000
Run Time: Unknown
Injuries: 21
Bull Weight: 1100 lbs

A staggering twenty-one people were injured in the second day of the 2000 bull runs. Two of the injuries were critical, two others were listed as a goring in the buttocks and a head injury both requiring surgery. Most others were treated on site and no statement was issued regarding a reason for the exceptionally high rate of injury in one day.

Nake Unknown, July 8, 2003
Run Time: Unknown
Deaths: 1
Bull Weight: Unknown

While most injuries occur to inexperienced runners, this victim, in his early 60’s, had run since the age of fourteen. A severe hit from one of the bulls caused irreversible cranial trauma resulting in a two and a half month coma until the man was removed from his artificial respirator on the 24th of September.

Daniel Romero, July 10, 2009
Run Time: Unknown
Deaths: 1
Bull Weight: Approx 1200 lbs

Madrid native Daniel Romero was gored in the neck and chest, cutting vital arteries and piercing his lung. This exceptionally public death, the most recent, littered the internet with pictures and stories, some of which were removed for their extremely graphic depictions of the death itself. Eyewitness testimony revealed that many uninformed onlookers were snapping pictures of the man as he bled to his death. Medical personnel on site and in the local hospital were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the 8:00 am start of the run.

Matthew Tassio, July 13, 1995
Run Time: 37 seconds
Deaths: 1
Bull Weight: 1295 lbs

This tragic run left the town of Pamplona devastated, as it was the first death at the event in exactly 15 years. The bull, named Castellano, barreled straight into the inexperienced Tassio who had fallen and, unknowingly, struggled to get up (something a more experienced runner would know not to do). The bull’s horn struck Tassio’s lower right back, piercing major blood vessels and throwing him 40 feet forward. Tassio’s parents later walked the path their 22-year-old son ran before his death, placing flowers on the spot where he was struck down.

Casimiro Heredia and Julian Zabalza, July 10, 1947
Run Time: Unknown
Deaths: 2
Bull Weight: Unknown

This shocking killing spree, where an enraged bull charged multiple times at both victims, resulted in one of the most vicious killings of the event’s history. While there is limited information on the nature of the injuries sustained, both runners dies almost instantly and neither ever made it to a hospital for surgery. Casimiro, a Pamplona native, was dead before the bull even released him from the hold of its sharp horns.

Vicente Risco and José Antonio Navasquez, July 13th, 1980
Run time: 10 minutes 55 seconds
Deaths: 2
Bull Weight: 1200 lbs

One of the longest and most tragic runs in the history of the event took two lives. Both of the men, in their twenties, were killed by the same bull who separated from the herd after having slipped and fallen. The bull, named Antioquio gored the first runner significantly earlier in the run and the second victim much later, showing that the killings were not a result of sudden distress but that the bull was enraged and threatened, the most dangerous aspect of the runs. One runner was gored clean through and carried on the bull’s horns just moments after he slipped, while the other was gored in the stomach. Both received massive blood transfusions but neither survived.

-Abi Katznelson

Read this article and still want to try your hand at this famous task? Stay safe with our tips for running with the bulls!

Photo Credit: PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images

All photos Getty Images.

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