News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Bull goes rogue - and viral - at rodeo

In two terrifying minutes, a bull in the range of 1,900 pounds eluded wranglers on the Sisters Rodeo arena floor and like a deer, running at full speed, jumped the fence in the red section at the arena’s southern end. The bull catapulted its bulk over the six-foot metal fence before exiting the red section entry way and into the food court.

This was the conclusion to Saturday night’s sellout event, the fourth of the five scheduled presentations of the 84th Sisters Rodeo. Fans scattered in all directions, horrified as the bull — later identified by the name Party Bus — sought its bearings.

Within seconds of clearing the metal fence the rodeo announcer activated the Rodeo’s emergency response plan. That sent a dozen or more Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies in motion. Only the rodeo clown, JJ Harrison, and the bullfighters beat them to where the bull jumped.

Running with all their might from one end of the arena to the other they too hopped the fence and gave fruitless chase. As fans dove and toppled to avoid the charging bull, some who looked like they had ranching experience joined in the chase on foot.

But the bull, now in full charge, caused injuries to three spectators, two men and a woman. It was the woman, the last in the bull’s path, who bore the brunt of the surreal experience. Video from spectators posted on social media show the bull first kicking over a full-size trash can and then hitting the woman full-on, tossing her into the air where she spun and thudded to the ground.

“It was horrifying, I couldn’t watch the video. I had to close my eyes and I started to shake,” Merissa Weathers said. Carolyn Dillon of Cloverdale described it as “… a lady got tossed into the air like a rag doll.”

The bull, now near the holding pens where livestock are held before entering the chutes which release them into the arena for the ride, was roped and wrangled by a pickup man and led to safety.

An ambulance from Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District is on hand in preparedness for injury to contestants. Paramedics were already on scene from Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District and Cloverdale Fire District. Three other ambulance units were dispatched and the three injured were triaged and taken to St. Charles in Bend.

The Nugget spoke with Rob Harrison, who was the duty captain for Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District that night, who confirmed events. Deputy Chief Tim Craig categorized the injuries as “minor” but acknowledged the seeming miracle that there was no serious injury to the woman so violently tossed by the bull.

“Shocking, but true,” he said.

The incident made international news, including the BBC.


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