A 29-year-old man suffered a serious head injury after being crushed by a 40-stone (250kg) polystyrene ball during a mad Spanish festival yesterday.
He was airlifted to hospital after the massive object, which was bouldering down the 1,640ft-long downhill course near Madrid, pinned him against the wall.
Tourists from as far as the UK and Japan travelled to Mataelpino to take part in the so-called Running Of The Balls ceremony.
Organisers broke from tradition to use the ball after bulls were banned for being both inhumane and too dangerous.
Disturbing footage from the event showed the ball bouncing off a wall before smashing against the helpless man who could only put his arms up to try and protect himself.
Several people were seen trying to help him after he collapsed in a heap on the tarmac.
He was injured in almost the same spot where another participant was badly hurt during last year’s festival.
Town hall chiefs, who used to use bulls but switched to the giant ball to cut down costs and reduce injuries, announced they would again be revising security.
Town mayor Javier de los Nietos said the local council will consider the use of helmets in the annual runs, known as Boloencierros.
Last year, as many as 22 were injured by the ball which can reach speeds of 48mph during the steepest part of the course.
De los Nietos told Spanish daily El Mundo: “We have spoken to some companies to try to get helmets sponsored.
“If we haven’t done it before it’s because we didn’t want people to be too confident and think nothing was going to happen to them if the ball hit them.”
Mataelpino began to use its increasingly famous giant ball in 2011 and other towns including one in the neighbouring province of Segovia have now borrowed the idea.
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One of the organisers, speaking before yesterday’s near-tragedy, said: “”t was introduced during the worst years of the economic crisis when we had a brainstorming session to see what we could do instead of using bulls.”
One social media user, commenting on the latest incident, said: “It would be impossible for us to be more stupid in this country.”
Another added: “We’re complete idiots. Was it really necessary to swap bulls for a giant ball?”
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