Bullfighting umpire gored in 'safety zone'

Official fights for his life after runaway beast attacks him in Carcassonne

In a freak accident, witnessed by more than 10,000 people, the large grey bull penetrated the callejon, or fenced-off area between the arena and the stands. Christian Baile, 55, the ceremonial umpire or alguazil of the Carcassonne bullfighting association, was gored in the thigh. As officials tried to pull him away, the bull smashed into the protected zone a second time, goring the prostrate Mr Baile in the chest and abdomen.

The umpire, a well-known local horse-breeder and former rugby league player, was on life support last night at the Carcassonne hospital. The bull which attacked him was slaughtered in the ring after the incident. After some heated debate, it was decided that the rest of the feria, or bullfight, should go ahead.

Although injuries to matadors in the ring are relatively common, it is rare for a bull to force its way into the protected corridor where bullfighters, officials and press photographers shelter from the action. Questions were being asked yesterday about the safety precautions at the French venue.

The man ultimately responsible for ensuring the application of bullfighting rules – including safety regulations – was Mr Baile himself as the local alguazil. Three quarters of an hour before the accident, he had started the proceedings by riding into the ring wearing a black uniform and plumed black hat.

One local bull-fighting official said that such accidents, although rare, were not unknown. "It is part of the risks of the sport," he said. "The alguazil is a professional who knows the danger that he is exposed to inside the callejon."

The grey Spanish bull, said to weigh almost half a ton, had just entered the ring for the second contest of the last night of the annual Carcassonne bull-fighting festival. In other words, the animal had not yet been crippled and weakened by having spears thrust into its neck and shoulders by picadors, the horse-borne bull-fighters.

Witnesses said that there was panic when the bull charged into the protected corridor for the first time, slightly injuring Mr Baile. Someone had the presence of mind to open a gate to allow the bull to escape back into the ring. But before anyone could stop it, the animal forced its way back into the protected perimeter of the ring, goring Mr Baile severely as he lay on the ground.

Bullfighting in the Spanish style, to the death of the bull (La Corrida) is technically illegal in France but permitted in areas which have an "unbroken" local tradition. This exception to the law has been interpreted broadly by French courts which have allowed bullfighting to be reintroduced to several towns in the souh west in the last two decades. One of these towns is Carcassonne, where Mr Baile was one of the leading figures in the revival of bullfighting 10 years ago.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture