July 14, 2003 - Posted at: 7:08 p.m.
PAMPLONA, Spain -- An American and a Spanish runner were gored and at least four other people were hospitalized on Monday after the eighth and final running of the bulls at Pamplona's San Fermin festival.
The American, identified as Robert Fluhr, 27, of Jacksonville, Fla., was gored in the buttock. He was hospitalized in one of Pamplona's main hospitals and underwent surgery. Jose Lorente Garcera, a 30-year-old from Valencia, was gored in the right leg. Both were in serious condition, according to hospital staff.
The bull's horn went through the man's rectum and perforated his bladder after he ran in front of the animals hurtling through the northern Spanish town on the last day of the week-long party. His condition was serious and required surgery, the local government said on its Web site.
The last bull on the last run of the eight-day San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, stopped about 50 yards short of the bullring, saw Fluhr, 27, of Jacksonville, and gored him in the buttock.
Fluhr, a sales representative for a child care supply company, was rushed to Pamplona's main hospital, where doctors discovered the bull's horn had ruptured Fluhr's bladder. He went into emergency surgery around noon local time Monday, hospital officials said.
About 13 hours later, Fluhr was moved into a private room, where he was resting and "on the mend," said his brother, Tim Wedel, 35, who spoke to The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Fluhr's bedside.
Wedel said Fluhr told him, "It seemed like the bull was on top of me for a couple of minutes," before passing out again in his hospital bed.
Their father, Robert Fluhr Sr. of Jacksonville, is flying to Spain on Tuesday, Wedel said.
"He was pretty upset; he wanted to smack us around," Wedel said.
The Little Rock natives had returned to their hotel room in the costal city of San Sebastian, about 60 miles away, after three previous days of daring the bulls on Pamplona's narrow streets. But late Sunday they decided to go back to the medieval mountain town one more time for the final run of the year.
Wedel had run ahead of his brother and into the bullring. When Fluhr didn't show up at various rondezvous points in Pamplona, Wedel took a public bus back to the hotel in San Sebastian, only to see his brother getting gored on television replays.
He learned the details from Fluhr during brief moments of lucidity in the recovery room. A white and black bull was separated from five others when it slipped and fell on the cobblestones. Spanish television showed it cornering several revelers, including Fluhr, in the corner of an alley.
Fluhr fell into the bull's path and covered his head in a fetal position, Wedel said. The bull charged twice, catching Fluhr with the second swipe of his horns.
"To make matters worse, he got up to run away and the bull herders, who were trying to get the bull into the ring, smacked him in the chest with a pole," Wedel said.
Fluhr was one of two men gored Monday. At least four others were trampled.
While most Spaniards wear traditional white shirts and pants and red kerchiefs and sash belts to taunt the bulls with the color that infuriates them, Fluhr stood out in a blue Citadel baseball cap, white USA T-Shirt and blue jeans, Wedel said.
After the bull gored him, other daredevils finally made the bull move on by shouting and slapping it with rolled-up newspapers. Because of the distraction, the bull finished the 900-yard course two minutes behind the rest of the herd.
The bulls were eventually killed Monday by matadors in the traditional late morning bullfights.
Monday's six bulls were from a training ranch well-known for its easily distracted bulls. The ranch produced the last bull to kill a runner, a 22-year-old American in 1995.
At least four other runners were hospitalized after being trampled by the bulls.
A lone white and black bull who became separated from the herd created one of the tensest runs of this year's San Fermin festival.
The bull took two minutes to cover the final 164 yards of the 900-yard run to the bull ring, completing the run in just over four minutes.
Separated from the pack after it attacked a runner and slipped on the cobblestones, the bull stopped and turned to face the oncoming runners. It charged one runner, apparently goring him, before being coaxed away by other runners who shouted and waved rolled up newspapers to attract its attention.
In the narrow alleyway leading to the bullring, the bull again charged the crowd, pinning one runner to the ground with its horns. The man managed to pull himself underneath the wooden barriers and out of the bull's reach, and runners finally coaxed the bull into the ring.
From the outset the bulls were distracted by the runners, looking into the crowd and frequently charging at runners. The six animals were from the Torrestrella ranch — renowned for breeding bulls that are easily distracted. A bull from the ranch was responsible for the last fatality of the bull run in 1995.
A relatively low number of runners during Monday's run kept the injury-count down. There have been 11 gorings, including four Americans, in this year's eight runs — just above the yearly average of seven to 10 gorings. The number of other injuries sustained during the runs is above average this year.
The San Fermin festival has featured the Running of the Bulls since the 16th century and gained worldwide fame when it was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."
Tourists descend on the city starting each July 7, usually on overnight trains from Barcelona and Madrid. Bars stay open all night and are filled at 7 a.m., when the streets are prepared for the 8 a.m. bull run. The streets are often little more than 10 feet wide, with buildings rising directly from the curbsides. Thousands pack balconies and ledges to watch the bulls dash by in a blur.
Since record-keeping began in 1924, 13 people have been killed at the San Fermin festival.