His wife did not want him to run. His friends didn’t want him to run. But Jaime Alvarez, a 46-year-old American from San Francisco, had to participate in the famous bull run in Pamplona, Spain. Just when he thought he had done it without a hitch, a selfie almost cost him his life.
Every year thousands of runners gather in Pamplona for the San Fermin parties, with people dressed in red and white partying all day and nights throughout the city. Up to and including next Sunday, bulls of 500 to 600 kg are also released every day on an 875-meter route through the narrow streets. A crowd of volunteers walks ahead of the bulls and tries to get rid of it. Dozens of people are injured every year, and in 2009 a fatal victim fell for the last time.
Alvarez, who works as a public prosecutor in Santa Clara County, took part in the opening race the day before yesterday. He walked ahead of the bulls and started counting when he arrived at the end of the course in the arena. When he thought that all bulls had passed and the organization was already closing the doors, he wanted to record a short selfie video. He had not seen, however, that only one bull had been left behind, after which it gave him a blast.
“It was like a truck or a car hit me on the side of my head,” he says from his hospital bed. “I felt my hand behind my neck and I saw blood. I felt that my neck was open and I was stunned. Then some guy who saw that I was injured grabbed my wrist and rushed me to the emergency services.”
Alvarez was operated on for two hours and was very lucky in all. The horn went deep into his neck and also broke part of his jawbone, but missed the artery and other important veins. “The horn pierced my neck but went straight up, instead of straight back,” it sounds. “If it had been backward, I probably wouldn’t be here. He went straight up my jaw. So it wasn’t a miracle, the doctor says, and I believe that.”
The man swears that he will return to Pamplona to enjoy the San Fermín parties. He will never walk again. “All in all, the course was fantastic. I just wish I had stayed behind, so to speak. The festival is incredible, the people are incredible and the energy is incredible.”