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Bull leaps fence at Sisters Rodeo, injuring three spectators

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At least three people were injured and one is in the hospital after a bull jumped a fence during the Sisters Rodeo Saturday night.

The incident unfolded toward the end of the night’s events around 9:45 p.m., when the bull jumped six feet over the fence, into the sold-out 5,500 spectator arena and then onto the rodeo grounds.

Officials said that, while two people sustained minor injuries from direct contact, a social media video shows a woman being flipped in the air and trampled by the bull. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of a leg injury but was quickly released. Another of the injured people was a Deschutes County sergeant who hurt his knee.

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Spectator Danielle Smithers, who was initially trying to record a crowd flashlight display on video, unintentionally captured the fence jump as it happened.

Three people were injured when a bull jumped the fence during the Sisters Rodeo, June 8, 2024 (Courtesy: Danielle Smithers)
Three people were injured when a bull jumped the fence during the Sisters Rodeo, June 8, 2024 (Courtesy: Danielle Smithers)

“I capture him completely going over the gate and disappearing,” she said. “Then there’s this huge pause in the zone he came out of. It seems like people go right back to waving their lights, almost like they’re not really sure what to do.”

However, within minutes, the rodeo pickup men were successfully able to recapture the bull minutes after it escaped the area. Sisters Rodeo spokesman Brian Witt told KOIN 6 News that this is due to strict emergency and prevention protocols put in place.

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“We were able to open the right gates so that the bull could get out of the spectator area and then it was retained immediately right after that,” he said.

Witt added that, while this emphasizes how dangerous of a sport rodeo is, these types of incidents are “extremely rare.”

“You might hear about one a year, in the industry like this,” he said. “But that was a very first.”

Despite her experience, Smithers said she would “definitely go back” to the Sisters Rodeo if given the opportunity.

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“I know this is one of those circumstances where you step into a situation like that, whether it be an amusement park or a rodeo or a zoo, for that matter. You’re always accepting the risk.”

However, she suggested the rodeo implement one small change for the safety of future events.

“Having some form of siren or something that they state at the beginning of the event saying, ‘Hey, if you hear this tone, please stop whatever it is you’re doing,'” she offered. “We had been listening to the announcer all night. So I think at that point, if you’re in your own conversation with somebody, you’re not paying attention to what they’re saying.”

Nonetheless, Smithers described rodeo personnel as “very responsive” when the incident unfolded. Witt also echoed this sentiment.

Three people were injured when a bull jumped the fence during the Sisters Rodeo and ran through the fairgrounds, June 8, 2024 (Courtesy: Jon Abbott)
Three people were injured when a bull jumped the fence during the Sisters Rodeo and ran through the fairgrounds, June 8, 2024 (Courtesy: Jon Abbott)

“We really have to thank and appreciate our first responder team, our rodeo professionals out in the arena, our volunteers,” he acknowledged. “Everybody just did a fantastic job in a very difficult situation to really manage both the crowd and the safety of all of the people here on the rodeo grounds.”

Earlier in the day, US Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer was at the Sisters Rodeo but left before the bull escaped. In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Chavez-DeRemer said, “I was not at the rodeo when the bull escaped, but I’m grateful for the quick response from event staff, law enforcement, and medical personnel who helped treat injuries. Shawn and I are praying for a speedy recovery for those who were hospitalized.”

The Sisters Rodeo Association released this statement following the incident:

On Saturday, June 8, 2024, during the final section of the bull riding event at the Sisters Rodeo, a bull jumped a fence. The rodeo announcer immediately activated the emergency response plan. 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. It was secured next to the livestock holding pens by our rodeo pickup men and immediately placed into a pen.

The Rodeo Sports Medicine Team, Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD, and Cloverdale RFPD, rodeo staff and local law enforcement responded immediately with first aid and care. First responders confirmed that three persons were injured as a direct result of the bull; two of whom were transported to a local hospital.

We wish the best to all affected. The safety of our fans is our highest priority and we appreciate their support.

The Sisters Rodeo will continue with its final performance beginning Sunday afternoon.

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