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Bout with bull teaches man respect for matadors


After a neighbor's 2,000-pound bull charged him, knocked him down and battered him for 10 minutes, Jerry E. Gooding told his wife yesterday he's "gained a new respect for matadors."

Mr. Gooding, a retired state police lieutenant, was in fair condition yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after being attacked Saturday night while he was trying to corral a neighbor's horse. The two animals had escaped from a Taneytown farm.

Mr. Gooding's wife, Barbara Gooding, said her husband maintained his sense of humor -- and told her from his hospital bed that he was glad to be alive.

Mr. Gooding, 49, suffered bruises head to toe and cuts and broken ribs.

"He feels very grateful he was spared," she said, adding that it was likely he would be released from the hospital today.

The incident began about 9 p.m. Saturday when Mr. Gooding and his wife were returning from a friend's birthday party to their Taneytown farm on Walnut Grove Road. Mr. Gooding, who retired from the state police three years ago, farms and works part-time as a bailiff in Carroll County.

The couple noticed that Jenny, their neighbor's chestnut quarter horse, had broken out of an electric-wired field and was being chased by another neighbor, Keith Keller. Mrs. Gooding said she stayed in the couple's Honda Civic while her husband got out to help catch the horse.

"Out of the blue, the bull hit him blind and knocked him to the ground and banged him around," she said.

Mr. Gooding tried to hang on to the bull's ears to keep it in check, but the animal used its head and shoulders like a battering ram with such force that at one point Mrs. Gooding felt "Jerry was going to die."

She tried to ram the bull with the car, but that proved futile.

Within a few minutes, Mr. Keller came to the rescue with his pickup truck.

"He got the bull to charge his truck," said Mrs. Gooding. She said her husband loosened his grip on the bull's ears and "rolled under the pickup truck."

But even then, the bull charged the truck several times -- bashing it in the side and back with such power that it was lifted off the ground.

She said Mr. Keller even got out of the truck to try to divert the bull from the injured Mr. Gooding.

The Goodings' son, Tor, a Frostburg State University student home from classes, happened to come down their quarter-mile driveway, and the bull rammed his truck, bending its side mirror.

A short while later, Mr. Keller got into another pickup truck that had arrived and, Mrs. Gooding said, the bull chased that vehicle until it was lured through a gate and shut in.

A state police Medevac helicopter transported Mr. Gooding to Shock Trauma.

The encounter with the hornless bull with the white face surprised the Goodings.

Mrs. Gooding said the bull, which she believed was about 3 years old, "always has been very friendly. Jerry used to feed him from our fence and pet his nose, and we just called it 'bull.' "

The bull, owned by David Ruppert, who has a neighboring farm, shared a pasture with the quarter horse that got loose, and the two animals were considered "buddies," said Tfc. Rudy S. Hanson, who investigated the incident.

Mr. Ruppert could not be reached for comment.

Trooper Hanson said Carroll County's animal control officer would investigate this week to determine if there were any violations of law, which could determine the bull's fate.

"The bull lives at this point," said Mrs. Gooding. "There is some talk about the humane society destroying the bull. I am somewhat fearful now. We do walk around the area, and even little children . . . pet the bull, so there is cause for concern, but I am not out for the death of the bull."

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