A bull that broke out of a pen at the Dakota County Fairgrounds seriously injured one woman and left seven others with less serious injuries as it charged through crowds at the fair, authorities said Wednesday night.
Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said one woman, who had a head wound and other injuries, was taken by helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center. Neither her name nor her condition were released Wednesday night.
Of the other seven injured, one was a child who had a bump on the head, but none were taken to hospitals, Bellows said.
The incident began about 8:15 p.m. during a bull-riding event at the fairgrounds in Farmington when the bull got out of a pen located on the east side of the fairgrounds and ran, the sheriff said.
At one point, it ran toward a deputy, who used his handgun to fire two bullets into the bull, which was estimated to weigh between 1,200 and 1,600 pounds. The deputy was slightly injured, Bellows said.
“The bull was on the loose for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, was eventually rounded up or captured by staff from the rodeo, and put back in its pen,” he said.
The event was sponsored by Rice Rodeo and the bull was owned by Gold Medal Cattle Co. of Merrill, Wis.
Jason Jensen of Farmington was walking with his wife and three young daughters in the parking lot when the bull barreled down an aisle of cars and ran right toward them, he said.
His family ran with workers behind a small ticket booth and the bull got within 15 or 20 feet of them when it suddenly veered to its left, followed closely by a rodeo worker on horseback with a lasso, Jensen wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune.
“About five seconds later, we saw it charge over a woman and a child, both of whom we also witnessed get back up fairly rapidly,” he wrote.
The bull then disappeared around a corner toward a food vendor area.
As they were leaving, the family saw police and deputies attending to three people lying on the ground. Jensen added that workers at the fair personnel “were on their toes with directing those nearby to get behind cover” and that all emergency responders were on top of the situation
John Rouleau of St. Paul, executive director of Minnesota Majority, a government watchdog organization, had just stepped away from the group’s booth when the bull escaped.
He was walking to his car in the parking lot to get his phone charger, Rouleau said, when he first noticed a startling sight.
“Right as I walked into the parking lot, I saw some sort of animal run past a couple of rows of cars.”
He walked closer and realized that it was a bull.
“It was running around in circles, being chased by some deputies on horseback, ATVs and on foot,” Rouleau said.
Chelsea Pierce, 20, of Hastings, said she was watching the bull-riding competition with her mother from the top bleacher when the bull escaped during an intermission just before barrel-racing.
One of the workers roped it but it charged toward another worker, and the rope slipped from the first worker’s hand, Pierce said.
The bull looked around as it paused near some children who scattered, she said. The bull then jumped over a fence on the left side of the bleachers.
“He jumped over and the ambulance went racing over there, and a bunch of squad cars and police cars went after it,” she said. Standing in the bleachers, she and others in the crowd could see it in a field, bucking.
“It ran toward a parking lot,” and the authorities spent another 15 minutes chasing it, amid a lot of commotion, Pierce said.
“A lot of people were running away, scattering out,” she said. Deputies shut the gates so that nobody inside the arena could get out unless they were medical personnel or workers.”
“The bull when they finally roped him back — everybody was cheering, but he was still fighting to not go back into his pen,” Pierce said.