Utah Student Gored At Running Of The Bulls Has Spleen Removed; Father Had Warned Him Not To Do It

  • Rick Chandler

Quiz: When participating in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, one is most likely to say: a. “What an exotic, fun adventure!” b. “The adrenalin rush was sublime!” c. “Ow! My spleen!”

For Patrick Eccles, 20, a university student from Utah, the answer of course is ‘c’.

Actually he now has no spleen — it’s been removed by a team of skilled surgeons and an even more skilled bull. The bull gored him in the stomach (among other more private places) during the traditional bull run on Friday, which was the sixth day of the San Fermin Festival. Eccles was one of three people to be seriously punctured on that day alone.

More photos here.

Navarra Hospital chief Javier Sesma said doctors removed Eccles’ spleen after it was found that the bull’s horn had gone through the abdominal cavity and punctured the nonvital, blood-filtering organ. He said Eccles was reported to be stable.

That’s actually a good description of anyone who would participate in the Running of the Bulls: a non-vital, blood-filtering organ.

But if you think that’s bad for Eccles, consider the bulls. In case you thought they were released into a pasture after the bull run to chew grass, cavort with hot cows and pick flowers, you are wrong. They’re used for bull fighting, where they’re typically stabbed with swords and spears, suffering a slow, painful death while being taunted by goofy Spaniards in skin-tight sparkle suits.

Most bulls die when their spinal column is severed (by picadors, not the prancing matador), causing them to collapse and either smother to death or choke on their own blood.

That’s what bull runners are aiding and abetting. But enjoy your “adventure”, fun-seekers.

Yep, it’s tough out there for a bovine. And also for certain simians, because every once and awhile, a bull gets in a good shot.

Someone in Eccles’ family had the good sense to warn his son not to participate in this stupid Spanish “tradition.”

Vince Eccles first learned that his son had participated in the Running of the Bulls in Spain when he got a phone call at 4 a.m. Friday informing him that his son was in the hospital.

“It’s something we had told him not to do,” Vince Eccles said.

Two Spaniards were also seriously injured Friday after being gored.

Common arguments by the clueless:

1. Don’t you eat meat? Answer: No. But when I did, it wasn’t typically tortured to death with swords, slowly and painfully, and then dragged out of the ring with a forklift.

2. Who are we to interfere with another country’s beliefs and traditions? Answer: But that’s exactly what you are doing. Bullfighting is in decline in Spain, the majority of citizens there either expressing disdain or apathy toward the “sport.” In a 2011 survey by the ministry of culture, only 8.5 percent of Spaniards said they have attended a bullfight. The thing that keeps it alive is tourism dollars, of which the San Fermin Festival is the leading event.

It’s estimated that upwards of 70 percent of participants in the festival are foreign: so people from countries where bullfighting is either illegal or simply not practiced are funding animal abuse in Spain. Without you, it would already be gone (as it now is in the Catalonia region).

3. It’s an exotic and unique adventure! Answer: It’s jumped the shark. For God’s sake, Rick Reilly has done it.

4. It was good enough for Ernest Hemingway. He’s a famous author who wrote about it! Answer: Yes, Hemingway was really stable: he ended his life by putting a shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.

But even that would have been more humane than the way the bulls die at the San Fermin Festival of Puncture Wounds And Animal Cruelty.

Photo: EPA.