A Spanish bullfighter named Iván Fandiño died this weekend after being gored by a bull in southwestern France. The Basque-born torero slipped and fell to the ground during a bullfight held on Saturday in Aire-Sur-L’Adour, around 150 kilometers northeast of Bayonne. He was attacked by the animal, sustaining critical internal injuries that doctors described as “irreversible.”
A spokesman for Layné hospital in Mont-de-Marsan, to where Fandiño, 36, was rushed in an ambulance, said it was impossible to save his life due to the injuries to his liver, kidneys and lungs.
“Hurry up and get me to the hospital, I’m dying,” the bullfighter reportedly said inside the ambulance shortly before passing away, according to the local daily Sud-Ouest.
While no official medical report has yet been released, Dr Poirier, a physician, who assisted Fandiño and traveled with him inside the ambulance, said that there was “nothing” that could have been done to save his life.
In statements to Sud-Ouest, he said that the torero was pronounced dead after he went into cardiac arrest a second time and medical staff were unable to resuscitate him.
The doctor said that Fandiño had three-and-a-half liters of black blood inside his abdominal cavity, a sign that his liver had burst. The bull’s horn had also sliced through a vena cava, a large vein that takes blood to the heart.
“By the time he was inside the infirmary he practically had no pulse. It was impossible to get a blood-pressure reading. Death was instantaneous. It was impossible to do anything for him,” stated Poirier.
Almost exactly a year ago, another Spanish bullfighter, Víctor Barrio, died inside the bullring in the city of Teruel. His death triggered a cascade of hate messages on social media, and a bullfighting association announced legal action against the individuals who mocked Barrio’s death.
Bullfighting has a long tradition in southern France, where there are currently 49 breeding estates, 51 rings, seven major bullfighting festivals and 10 full-fledged toreros who share top billing with colleagues from other parts of the world.
In 2011, France became the first country to declare bullfighting an Intangible Cultural Heritage, consolidating the protection of a practice that has been kept up throughout the years. In 1951, a law was passed banning animal abuse – including cockfights and bullfights – except in places where there was a continued tradition of it. Such is the case for the southern cities of Arlés, Nîmes, Bayonne and Béziers, for instance.
English version by Susana Urra.