An American lawyer gored in the neck during the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain on Sunday said he felt like he was “hit by a car or a truck” the moment he was struck by a 1,000 pound bull.
Jamie Alvarez, a San Francisco resident who works as a public defender in Santa Clara, was participating in the first run of this year’s San Fermin festival when he nearly lost his life after being struck by a stray bull he never saw coming.
“The joy and the excitement of being in the bullring quickly turned into a scare, into real fear for my life,” Alvarez, 46, told The Associated Press Monday from his hospital bed.
“In the course of a few seconds, a million thoughts came to my mind, and that of dying was definitely one of them.”
Alvarez said he ran most of the 913-yard course when the pack of bulls caught up to where he was. He climbed up a fence to wait for the danger to pass and returned to the arena shortly after to shoot a victory video, “a 5-second video scene to say ‘Here I am, I did it.’”
That’s when a stray bull came charging at him, striking him in the neck.
“The impact was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It was like being hit by a car or a truck,” he said. “It was scary.”
Alvarez was gored deep in his neck, fracturing his cheekbone. He said he was told it was “beyond miraculous” that his jugular vein or major arteries were not severed in the accident.
After being pulled from the arena by spectators, Alvarez was taken to hospital where he underwent a nearly three hour. He was reported in stable condition on Monday and could be released as early as Tuesday.
Two other Americans have been injured so far this year. Video footage showed how a bull approached Aaron Froelicher of Florence, Kentucky, from the back, tossed him into the air and gored him in the left thigh. Authorities said the 23-year-old remained hospitalized Monday while recovering from surgery.
The running of the bulls — and the nine days of seamless partying that accompanies the festival — draws about 1 million spectators to the city of 200,000 every year. The bulls chosen to race in Pamplona often weigh in the range of 1,102 to 1,323 pounds.
Alvarez has vowed to return to the race but this time, only as a spectator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.