FARMINGTON, Minn. - The rodeo at the Dakota County Fair took an unexpected turn Wednesday night when a bull named "Red 43" got loose.
The Dakota County Sheriff confirms the loose rodeo bull injured eight people, including a Cottage Grove woman who was airlifted by medical helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center.
According to HCMC, Barbara Goggins is in satisfactory condition. The other people who were injured, including a child, suffered less severe injuries that were treated at the fairgrounds.
The Sheriff's Office says the bull broke loose from a penned-in area around 8:45 p.m. Dakota County Deputy Matthew Regis says seconds after the call came in, he ran to survey the scene and saw the bull trotting through the field adjacent to the arena. He says the bull locked eyes with him.
"It was coming towards me, I wasn't as fast as it, as I would change my course, it would change its course, so I knew we were going to meet," said Deputy Regis.
Deputy Regis says he shot the runaway bull twice at very close range. He says both shots struck the bull.
"I've never felt anything that powerful, it made me feel like I was just thrown away," said Deputy Regis. "When the bull lowered its head I had an opportunity to make a clean shot in its neck, I was hoping those shots would make a difference, distract it, make it retreat or change its course, the bull continued its course and plowed me over."
Deputy Regis suffered only a sprained ankle and bruises. He was treated and released from Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, and says the extra armor in his bulletproof vest, which he now calls his "bull" proof vest, likely saved his life. He immediately got up and ran to help the Cottage Grove woman who was airlifted to the hospital.
Until now, he says he's never had to fire his weapon during a crisis in his career.
"Going toe to toe with a bull, that is going to stay in my memory for quite some time," said Regis.
The bull continued into a crowd of people and was captured by rodeo staff.
Today, the bull's owner Scott Vandergeest of Golden Medal Cattle Company said he had the bull euthanized as a precaution.
Vandergeest leased the bull to Dave Rice of Rice Bull Riding, based out of Princeton, Minnesota who put on the rodeo show.
Rice called it a freak accident which he has never experienced in his 20 years as a bull rider and owner. He says he's never had a spectator harmed in his career.
Rice believes the 1,200 pound bull somehow broke a latch--a latch made to withstand 19,000 pounds--when it was being loaded into the trailer after the show. He's not sure why the bull broke the latch, but believes the bull became spooked when spectators in crowds and officers on ATVs tried to chase after it, which was the "wrong thing to do."
Rice says his professionals could have lassoed the bull faster had others not intervened, but law enforcement actions put the bull into a "run."
This was Rice's first experience putting on a rodeo show at the Dakota County Fair. He says in the future, before every event, he will meet with law enforcement to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Rice also said he had a chaplain visit the injured woman in the hospital. She suffered a cut on her head and is expected to be okay.
KARE 11 tried to reach out to Dakota County Fair board officials for comment. They did not make themselves available.
Sheriff Dave Bellows says he does not expect any criminal charges to arise from the incident, but he may submit the case to the county attorney for review.
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