Irishman on stag crushed by bulls in Spain
Engineer hospitalised with serious injuries after festival disaster
AN Irishman was hospitalised after he was gored by a raging bull in Spain.
Robert Thackaberry, an engineer from Dublin, was among 23 people rushed to hospital after an agonising pile-up during the famous Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona.
He is currently recovering in hospital from crush injuries after being knocked out cold by a rampaging bull.
Mr Thackaberry was among a group of 18 friends from Dublin and Scotland who travelled to Pamplona on a stag weekend for his friend, Rob Smyth.
It was feared that Mr Thackaberry, 28, had been critically injured in the chaos that engulfed yesterday's running of the bulls, part of the festival of San Fermin.
Mr Smyth told the Sunday Independent: "We all got back to the 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 in the 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 Irishman's condition was initially described as "serious", with asphyxia caused by crush injuries to his chest. He was named only by his initials, as 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 in the melee.
The terrifying near-two-minute-long drama was relayed live on national Spanish TV.
"That's where we saw the highlights – and feared the worst," said Mr Smyth.
Mr 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 trample over the terrified runners.
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 around 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.
"We have spoken to Robert in hospital and he is fine. He has spoken to his mum in Dublin by phone so she knows he is okay.
"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," Mr Smyth added.