Friday 24 October 2014

Dublin man recovering after being knocked out in Pamplona bull run

Jerome Reilly and Gerard Couzens

Published 13/07/2013 | 08:37

Robert Thackaberry (28) is recovering after being knocked out at Pamplona today
Runners get trapped with Fuente Ymbro fighting bulls and steer in an stampede at the entrance to the bull ring during the seventh running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 13, 2013
Runners get trapped with Fuente Ymbro fighting bulls and steer in an stampede at the entrance to the bull ring during the seventh running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 13, 2013
Runners get trapped with Fuente Ymbro fighting bulls and steer in a stampede at the entrance to the bull ring during the seventh running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 13, 2013
Runners get trapped with Fuente Ymbro fighting bulls and steer in a stampede at the entrance to the bull ring during the seventh running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 13, 2013

An Irishman who was among 23 people hospitalised after an agonising pile-up during the famous Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain is recovering in hospital from crush injuries after being knocked out cold by a rampaging bull.

An Irishman who was among 23 people hospitalised after an agonising pile-up during the famous Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain is recovering in hospital from crush injuries after being knocked out cold by a rampaging bull.

Robert Thackaberry, an engineer from Dublin, was among a group of 18 friends from Dublin and Scotland who travelled to Pamplona on a stag week-end for his friend, Dublin gym owner Rob Smyth.

It was feared that Mr Thackaberry (28) had been critically injured in the chaos that engulfed this morning’s running of the bulls, part of the festival of San Fermin.

Rob Smyth told Independent.ie: "We all got back to the a cafe after the bull run thankful we had escaped with our lives but Robert wasn’t with us. Then we saw the repeated TV footage of him being brought out from the crush. He was blue.”

Runners were trampled on in a massive crush at the entrance to the bull ring as the animals they were trying to escape from tried to climb over them from behind.

The 28-year-old Irishman was initially described as “serious” with asphyxia caused by crush injuries to his chest.

He was named only by his initials “R.T” because it was feared his condition was so serious.

A spokesman for Navarra Hospital in Pamplona described his condition as “serious but less serious than the Spaniard's” - a reference to a local bull runner who was critically injured.

The terrifying near-two-minute-long drama - reminiscent of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 people - was relayed live on national Spanish TV.

“That’s where we saw the highlights - and feared the worst,” said Rob.

Robert Thackaberry suffered a serious gash to his nose and is severely bruised. He was knocked out cold by a rampaging bull and then was caught in the crush of terrified people as the bulls tried, and succeeded, to run over the trapped people.

Local authorities in Pamplona, northern Spain, where the festival runs take place, mobilised the two bull ring emergency medical teams in response.

One lifeless-looking runner was pictured being carried away by paramedics to an on-site operating theatre.

The pile-up happened as runners tried to squeeze through a narrow entrance into the bull ring at the end of the half-mile course.

Local police are thought to have been unable to open one of the two gates leading into the bull ring in time because of the avalanche of people coming towards them.

Up to six-half tonne bulls smashed into the human wall from behind.

The drama only ended when workers opened an entrance to an alley running round the bull ring which the bullfighters traditionally use as a refuge.

In the agonising minute and a half the drama lasted, runners and bulls trapped side by side in the crush tried to climb over each other to safety.

Others reaching the pile-up attempted to save themselves by running back the way they had come - into the path of oncoming bulls that were yet to finish the course.

TV commentators were stunned into silence as the images were relayed live on TVE1 - the Spanish equivalent of BBC1.

”We have spoken to Robert in hospital and he is fine,” added Rob Smyth.

“He has spoken to his mum in Dublin by phone so she knows he is OK. He was very lucky. We all were. I wouldn’t do it again in a million years. The bulls were ramming against the people who were all trapped and then they jumped over the people. Robert was hit from behind and is severely bruised.” 

The group of 18 were in Pamplona to celebrate Rob Smyth’s forthcoming wedding. He is a gym owner with his own business “Let’s Train.”

And though he is very fit he added that it was impossible to outrun the bulls.

“Out of the 18 in the group, 15 did the run. The three who didn’t do it were the smart ones,” he said.

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