Speaking through a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) conservation officer who is fluent in Spanish, Macha said he was sitting in some brush in the shade when he heard some noise and turned around to see a bull elk walking uncomfortably close to him. Macha abruptly stood up and ran. The bull elk gave chase and knocked him down, goring him three times before running off.
After the attack, Macha walked about four miles to the camp of his friend, a fellow sheepherder. The following morning, September 4, Macha’s friend found several DWR conservation officers and biologists who had been working on the mountain.
Fortunately, one of the officers, Sgt. Ben Wolford, is an advanced emergency medical technician (EMT).
The other officers involved in helping Macha were Dennis Shumway, an Afghanistan War veteran who is fluent in Spanish and has considerable medical training, Lt. J Shirley and officer TJ Robertson.
Within minutes, the DWR officers assessed and stabilized Macha. They bandaged his wounds and gave him oxygen and a saline IV. The officers then called for a medical helicopter to airlift Macha from the scene.
Macha was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, CO, where he is listed in stable condition. He suffered puncture wounds in the chest, back and thigh. His lung had collapsed, and the officers said it appeared his shoulder was dislocated.
Shumway says bull elk are coming into their breeding season (known as the rut) this time of year. Testosterone levels are at their peak. Bull elk are ramped up and ready to fight for dominance.
Officers believe the elk was surprised and startled when it found Macha. Driven by a “fight or flight” instinct, the elk reacted aggressively and gored Macha.