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‘There’s a bull out!’: Bull jumps Sisters Rodeo arena fence; several injured in fleeing crowd; all reported to be back home

(Update: Adding video, comments from rodeo volunteer, staff)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A bull jumped a fence and escaped from the Sisters Rodeo arena during the bull-riding event at Saturday night’s performance, striking and injuring three people while it ran through the rodeo grounds, sparking a frantic run for safety, authorities said. Rodeo officials said Sunday all of the injured had returned home from the hospital.

The incident happened shortly before 10 p.m. at the 84th Sisters Rodeo, a popular event that draws many of the nation's top cowboys and thousands of spectators.

" Everybody behind me was just yelling and everybody was just trying to get out of the way," rodeo volunteer Paige Chamberlain told us Sunday.

Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. Joshua Spano said several ambulances were called to the scene and that "they caught the bull pretty quick."

Sheriff's LLt. Jayson Janes said Sunday that deputies transported one patient with non-life-threatening injuries and that a deputy also sustained minor injuries while responding to the bull's location.

Leslie Lange Rodeo Company provides the livestock for the rodeo, both the horses and the bulls.

"Last night was a rarity," Lange said Sunday. "As a stock contractor hired by the Sisters Rodeo, I'm representing the Sisters Rodeo. That's not something that we ever want to have happen."

After the bull was captured, it was taken home Saturday night. 

"We obviously can't replicate that scenario," Lange said, "but we're going to take him home, buck him again, do some training with him and try to never put him in that situation again."

The Sisters Rodeo Association issued a statement early Sunday (in full below) that said three people were injured “as a direct result of the bull, two of whom were transported to a local hospital.”

The association said the rodeo announcer “immediately activated the emergency response plan” as “the bull ran out through the rodeo grounds and back to the livestock holding pens.”

“Rodeo livestock professionals quickly responded to safely contain the bull,” the statement continued. “It was secured next to the livestock holding pens by our rodeo pickup men and immediately placed into a pen.”

“We wish the best to all affected. The safety of our fans is our highest priority and we appreciate their support,” the association said, adding that Sunday’s final performance of the year proceeded as planned.

Sisters Rodeo Vice President Brian Witt told NewsChannel 21 before Sunday's performance, "Rodeo is an inherently dangerous sport, and especially bull riding. But it (an escaped bull) is a very rare occasion. We've never had it here at our Sisters Rodeo. It does happen. But what we do is, we plan for it."

"Fortunately, we just had a great response from our rodeo pickup men, as well as a lot of the security staff and medical folks, to really prevent a lot of other injuries," Witt added.

In a subsequent post Sunday afternoon, the rodeo association said, "We are grateful to hear that all injured persons are now home."

The packed crowd was singing along with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” from loudspeakers when the circling bull jumped the fence.

Danielle Smithers was among the rodeo fans with her cellphone flashlight on as the bull named Party Bus was moving around the ring with two riders on horseback as the crowd sang and swayed to the music.

“And about 30 seconds into it I stopped and I looked at it, and I thought to myself, ‘This is just too beautiful not to have a video,’" Smithers told The Associated Press. She shut off her flashlight and “started recording the bull, just following him, making his loop - and as he started coming around his second loop in my video, he goes right over” the fence, she said.

“Get to higher ground, everybody! There’s a bull out!” the announcer quickly said. “Get to higher ground! Open the gates, Billy! Everybody in the grass: Get under the grandstands or up in the grandstands! The pickup men are coming around!"

“Everybody keep your eyes open!” he continued. “A bull is in the grass – a bull has jumped the arena fence, and he’s in the grass! If you’re in the grass, get out of the way! Pickup men are coming around!”

Videos shared with NewsChannel 21 and posted to social media show the bull jumping the fence, then running through the relatively light late-night crowd as rodeo fans scrambled to get out of its way.

Marcelle Abel, who posted a brief video on Facebook of the running bull, called it "the most insane thing I've seen in a long time!"

Abel wrote, “The bull jumps the fence at the Sisters Rodeo tonight while we are waiting on the last rider and barrels through the crowd behind the stands. Not sure of the details of injuries but praying for the few that may have been injured."

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association also issued a statement (also in full below), calling it an "alarming incident" at the PRCA-sanctioned event, which "reminded us that while rodeo is a highly entertaining sport, on very rare occasions it can also pose some risk."

"Several spectators were injured and received medical treatment," they said. "PRCA sends our thoughts and well wishes to those who were injured or otherwise impacted by this frightening and very rare incident."

The association said it "selects only the best pickup men. They are the most highly trained, best horsemen anyone can find, and we are grateful that their training helped to prevent further injuries or loss of life."

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Barney Lerten

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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