Utah man returns to park where he was gored by a bison on a date, date gets attacked by bison
After recovering from a cracked rib and collapsed lung, Kyler Bourgeous thought he was ready to return to Utah's Antelope Island State Park, where he was gored by a bison during a June trail run. So he headed there with a date on Friday evening, figuring that they could watch the sunset together. After all, what were the chances that the bison would charge again?
The next thing he knew, his date, Kayleigh Davis, was being airlifted to the hospital, the victim of the park's second reported bison attack this year.
"I thought my situation was just a freak accident," Bourgeous told The Washington Post on Monday night. "But apparently, they're a lot more aggressive than I ever thought."
Statistically speaking, bison attacks are a relatively rare occurrence on Antelope Island, a 42-square-mile preserve in the Great Salt Lake that is one of Utah's most popular parks and also home to hundreds of free-range bison.
Making the coincidence even more bizarre, neither Davis, 22, nor Bourgeous, 30, made the mistake of trying to pet a bison or approach one for a selfie, as visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been known to do. Both were gored while doing what experts recommend - trying to get out of the bison's way - and Lt. Eric Stucki with Utah State Parks told the Associated Press that there wasn't any indication that either "did anything out of the ordinary" to antagonize the large mammals.
"There's a fair number of people that assume by association that this was somehow my fault, because I was there when it happened again," Bourgeous told The Post. "I would never intentionally approach a bison."
An avid cyclist and trail runner who grew up in nearby Syracuse, Utah, Bourgeous has been visiting Antelope Island State Park his entire life, logging thousands of miles on its breathtakingly scenic trails. Before his accident, he often went there four or five times a week. He's used to keeping his distance from the bison, mule deer, pronghorns and bighorn sheep that call the park home.
On June 1, Bourgeous set out to climb the trail that leads to the highest point in the park, something that he estimates he has done more than 150 times before. This time, though, he approached the summit only to discover that two adult bison were waiting on the opposite side of the ridge. As soon as he saw them, he rushed to get out of their sight. But it was too late. One of the huge, shaggy beasts, which can run at up to 35 mph, was charging him.
"You can't outrun bison," Bourgeous said.
One of the animals collided with him, ramming its horns into his hip and armpit and sending him flying. When Bourgeous crashed to the ground, the bison trampled him with its hoofs, then lingered nearby to see if he would budge again. "It's just hovering there, waiting for you to move, and it will finish you off if you do," he recalled.
Fortunately, people who were perched on nearby rocks had witnessed the attack, and Bourgeous was able to call to them and ask for a rescue helicopter. He told The Post on Monday that he got lucky - the bison didn't hit any arteries, so he didn't have major blood loss, and after a few days in the hospital, the doctors determined that his collapsed lung seemed to be holding up just fine. Endurance sports had given him a high tolerance for pain, so 11 days after getting gored, he went hiking.