A German tourist cycling in the Camargue in the South of France with his wife has been gored to death by a bull which had escaped from its enclosure. The animal was bred for bullfighting.
The unnamed man, aged 54, was reported to have received 20 wounds from the horns of the animal, which broke through a fence while fighting with other bulls.
As the couple, who were on a camping holiday, approached on their bikes, the bull charged the woman, aged 49, before turning its aggression on her husband, aiming blows particularly at his throat, with fatal consequences.
The woman, who hid in bushes until a pair of Dutch holidaymakers arrived at the scene in their car and summoned help, suffered slight injuries to her arms and legs and was taken to hospital in Arles for treatment, reports Midi Libre.fr.
Gendarmes stationed in Tarascon are conducting a preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the man’s death, which will focus among other things on the security of the fencing of the enclosure the bulls were kept in.
The fatal incident took place yesterday in the early afternoon near the Domaine Paul Ricard – established by the eponymous founder of the pastis brand – close to the town of Saintes-Maries de la Mer.
Roland Chassain, mayor of the town which has an official population of around 2,500 which swells to more than 50,000 at the height of the summer, expressed his shock at yesterday’s death, telling La Provence.com: “I’ve never heard of anything like this in 40 years.”
Saintes-Maries de la Mer is the capital of the Camargue, famous among other things for its bulls, which are looked after by gardiens – French cowboys – who ride white horses and dress in shirts made from traditional Provençal fabrics.
The area has a long and proud tradition of bullfighting, with ferias held at the ancient Roman arenas in nearby Arles and Nîmes, among other places.
In Britain, incidents involving members of the public and cattle are investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
On average, two people are killed in Britain each year after being trampled by cows.
Often, incidents resulting in death or injury occur when people are walking their dogs in fields in which cattle are present.
An HSE factsheet outlines that bulls of certain dairy breeds may not be kept in a field crossed by a public right of way, and also highlights rules applicable to other types of breed.
There is no such restriction on cows, although mothers with calves nearby can be highly protective and even aggressive if they feel threatened.
In May, the Bath Chronicle reported that a man had been killed in Wiltshire and his brother seriously injured after being trampled by a herd of cows while they were walking their dogs.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.