Photographer Sues Texas Longhorns’ Mascot Handlers After 2019 Sugar Bowl Incident

Former photographer for the Austin American-Statesman Nick Wagner has filed suit against the owners and handlers of Bevo XV, the mascot for the Texas Longhorns, alleging that the steer caused “permanent injury” after ramming Wager in the back.

The incident, captured on video, occurred on January 1, 2019, just prior to the Sugar Bowl football game between Texas and Georgia. Wagner was on one knee taking photos of Georgia’s bulldog mascot Uga X. Uga’s handlers brought the bulldog towards Bevo for a photo, but Bevo reacted poorly and pushed forward, dispersing the crowd around Wagner. Unfortunately, Wagner’s back was to Bevo at the time and he was not able to move out of the way of the large longhorn’s path.

“I was focusing on getting a shot of Georgia’s live mascot Uga. I just remember looking back and locking eyes with Bevo before feeling him buck my back,” Wagner said a day after the incident in a report in the Statesman.

According to the filing, Wagner “was on one knee in front of the portable railing which Bevo was behind” and “Bevo XV rammed his longhorns twice into Plaintiff’s back causing permanent injury to Plaintiff’s neck and back.”

Wagner reports that the next day he had a deep bruise on his back and noticeable pain. “I was 24 at the time, and being 24 years old with back pain didn’t really sit right with me,” he said.

In an interview, Wagner’s attorney said that Wagner had accumulated more than $24,000 in medical bills from therapy sessions, and that he also suffered “loss of motion” and “impairment” in two areas of his spine.

Wagner left the Statesman in May. After the incident, Bevo continued to travel with the team but with a considerably upgraded pen: a 16-foot wide, 16-foot long cattle pen with stronger 4 1/2-foot tall panels.

John and Betty Baker, Bevo’s owners, as well as the Silver Spurs Alumni Association, the group responsible for Bevo’s day-to-day care, are the named defendants. The petition states that the defendants failed to take proper safety precautions, used faulty equipment, used faulty tack, failed to post warnings of danger, and intentionally exposed Bevo to Uga “knowing it would spook him.”

Wagner is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in damages. He claims that he initially tried to work with the Bakers, but was met with “radio silence,” despite the Silver Spurs carrying a liability policy that Wager and his attorney allege should have covered the medical expenses.

“That’s probably an age-old story,” Powell said. “Once they feel like it’s out of the press, they don’t care.”

(Via USA Today)

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