Jaime Alvarez was attempting to document the moment when the bull suddenly charged at him in Pamplona, Spain
An American lawyer attempting to remember the moment he went running with the bulls in Spain certainly got his wish recently — but not for the reasons you may think.
On Sunday, San Francisco-based public defender Jaime Alvarez decided he would try to snap a selfie with a bull after he had successfully run ahead of the herd of 12,000-pound animals at the annual festival in Pamplona, Spain, NBC 15 reports.
Alvarez, 46, however, was caught off guard in the bullfighting plaza by the stray animal, who came charging at him and aggressively drove its horn into the California native’s neck and cheek.
Doctors who treated Alvarez later told him he was especially lucky to be alive as the bull’s horn severely impaled his neck and fractured part of his cheekbone, but “miraculously” did not hit any major arteries or veins.
“The joy and the excitement of being in the bullring quickly turned into a scare, into real fear for my life,” Alvarez told the outlet. “The impact was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It was like being hit by a car or a truck … It was scary.”
The terrifying encounter happened over the weekend, while Alvarez was on his way to another city in Spain to watch his son play in a soccer tournament with his wife and daughter, according to NBC 15.
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The family decided to stop in Pamplona and watch the famous eight-day festival, and Alvarez — inspired by the energy of the crowd and spectators — decided to join in on the running, despite his daughter and wife’s wishes to do otherwise.
Though Alvarez told the outlet he successfully ran a majority of the 913-yard course ahead of the bulls, the animals eventually caught up to him by the time he had reached the Plaza de Toros bullring.
In an attempt to bring himself to safety, Alvarez said he climbed onto a fence, but later returned to the plaza when he felt he was out of harm’s way, in order to record “a 5-second video scene to say ‘Here I am, I did it.'”
Unfortunately, his poor judgment led him to be suddenly get gored by the bull. Alvarez told NBC 15 he didn’t even realize the severity of his injuries until he touched his neck and saw his hand covered in blood.
“I was really out of it, really stunned, I didn’t know what direction to go,” he explained to the news outlet.
Luckily, a bystander at the scene helped bring Alvarez to safety and get him medical attention. The California lawyer was then transferred to the Royal Navarre Hospital, where he underwent an emergency surgery that lasted over two-and-a-half hours.
As of Monday afternoon, Alvarez was reportedly in stable condition and could be discharged as soon as Tuesday, NBC 15 reports.
Despite the traumatic experience, Alvarez told the outlet he planned to return to Pamplona, but only as a spectator to enjoy the annual festival.
Alvarez was not the only person to suffer injuries during the bull-running event on Sunday. In a statement on their website, the Royal Navarre Hospital said five others were injured, including two who were gored.
Besides Alvarez, a 23-year-old man from Kentucky was also gored by the bull, according to the hospital. The other victim was a 40-year-old man from Spain. On Monday, an additional four victims were injured from the festival, the hospital said.
The Running of the Bulls is a Spanish tradition at San Fermin Festival that occurs each morning over a course of eight days, dating back nearly a century ago, according to CNN. It was traditionally used as a way to move the bulls from the city’s outskirts to the bull ring.
The event brings in approximately 1 million spectators each year, including the hundreds of runners who choose to run down the city’s street course ahead of the bulls to Pamplona’s arena, NBC 15 reports.
Injuries are also not uncommon at the event, with records dating back to 1910 listing 16 deaths, according to the outlet. CNN also reports that nine people were injured in the first two days of the festival in 2018.