The father of Patrick Eccles says his son, who was injured Friday, is "a bit of a romantic."
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A University of Utah student was gored Friday during the danger-filled sixth running of the bulls at this year's San Fermin festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona.
Patrick Eccles, 20, of Logan, and two Spaniards were gored in the run, according to regional authorities for the government of Navarra. Eccles was studying abroad in Spain, though not apparently in a U. program.
Eccles is studying architecture and business and graduated from Logan High School, according to a biography on a University of Utah website. University spokesman Keith Sterling confirmed Eccles is a student.
Eccles' father, Vince Eccles, said his son was working as an intern for a mobile app developer based in Spain. Vince Eccles said he had no idea that his son was planning on participating in the dangerous event. The only indication Eccles gave to his parents was an off-the-cuff remark about running with the bulls before he left, Vince Eccles said, but it seemed like just a "fanciful idea" at the time. Still, the parents made sure to tell Eccles that it wouldn't be a good idea, he said.
"He's not really one to pursue danger," Vince Eccles said of his son. Instead, Eccles is "a bit of a romantic" and probably ran to take in the culture, he said.
Vince Eccles said he plans to fly to Spain to discuss his son's treatment in more detail with doctors. The internship was supposed to end in late July, but Patrick's father may try to convince his son to come home early. So far, Vince Eccles hasn't spoken to his son directly, he said.
"We're kind of thinking it's time for him to come home and recuperate here," he said.
Eccles was hospitalized and his spleen was removed after doctors found the bull's horn had gone through his abdominal cavity and punctured the nonvital, blood-filtering organ, according to Navarra Hospital chief Javier Sesma. He said the young man was stable.
Mike Favero coached Eccles on the Logan High School football team, where Eccles played wide receiver.
"Obviously, he's a risk taker and a risk seeker and a competitive guy," he said. "He's that kind of kid he's not afraid to fail, and those are the kids that are the most successful, those that take chances and aren't afraid."
Reached by phone Friday, his family declined to comment.
Also injured was a 31-year-old Spaniard, Diego Miralles, who was charged by a loose bull. He was tossed on the ground and trapped for almost 30 seconds as fellow runners tried to pull the bull away by its tail. The man clung to one of the horns as screams were heard.
Helpers eventually dragged the victim to safety by his feet.
A second American and another two Spaniards were also taken to city hospitals for other injuries suffered in falls and trampling during the frenzied event. Sesma said the Spaniard who had been pinned to the ground was gored three times; in the groin, knee and thigh.
"The injuries are not as serious as one would have expected on seeing the televised footage," said Sesma.
None of the six taken to hospitals was said to be in serious condition.
Hospital authorities initially said four people were gored, but the regional government revised that to three.
The gorings were the first of this year's runs, during which thousands of thrill-seekers race daily with the bulls along a 930-yard route from a holding pen to the city bull ring.
Friday's event lasted just under five minutes, roughly double the normal length. Longer runs normally occur when some of the bulls get separated from the pack and become disoriented and more dangerous.
The black bull that caused the most panic Friday made several more attempts to charge people before he was eventually guided along the narrow streets to join the rest of the pack in the pen of the packed bull ring.
The nationally televised 8 a.m. runs are the highlight of the nine-day street partying festival made world famous with the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.
The bulls that take part each morning are invariably killed by matadors in evening bull fights, and their meat is served in Pamplona's restaurants.
Dozens of people are injured each year in the "encierros," as the runs are called in Spanish. Most get hurt after tripping and falling in the rush.
The fighting bulls used in the centuries-old fiesta can weigh up to at 1,380 pounds and have killed 15 people since record-keeping began in 1924.