Woman dies in stampede

A WOMAN was killed by stampeding cattle as she walked her dogs along a footpath. Health and safety officials are now making inquiries into the death, which happened on Sunday afternoon at South Elmham Hall, near Bungay.

A WOMAN was killed by stampeding cattle as she walked her dogs along a footpath.

Health and safety officials are now making inquiries into the death, which happened on Sunday afternoon at South Elmham Hall, near Bungay. The hall and farm is a popular spot for wildlife walks and for its café and restaurant, and diners and staff were shocked when the 45-year-old woman was stam-peded by the herd of cows in the field just yards from the car park.

Owner and farmer John Sanderson rushed to the woman's aid and tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late. The air ambulance was called out and spent around an hour at the scene trying to revive her but she was already dead when they arrived. She is thought to have suffered a cardiac arrest, although it is not clear whether it was caused by her injuries.

Mr Sanderson said: “We are all feeling for the family. It is a tragedy. It was a complete shock to me.”

He said the cows in question were his suckler herd, which are brown and white Simmental beef sucklers.

The woman, thought to be from the Beccles area, had not been named by police last night. She was wearing walking clothing, including boots, trousers, and a three-quarter-length grey and red outdoor jacket.

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Lili Gooch, from London, was having lunch when the tragedy happened, and is thought to have been the last woman to see the victim alive.

She said she went outside to take a photograph and was having a cigarette when she saw the woman get out of her red car.

“The two dogs, one a jack russell and another quite small dog, like a boxer, were really pulling her along. I looked at her and smiled and she smiled back at me. She had a kind-looking face.

“I decided not to take the picture because I was a bit scared of the cows. They weren't doing anything, but they looked quite serious and I got nervous. I went back in, and as we were having our main course this little Jack Russell came in, shaking and with blood everywhere. The dog came for help. That is how everyone knew what had happened.

“I must have been the last person this lady saw. I suppose she was going for a walk and would have come back to have a cup of tea. A simple walk turned out to be completely tragic for her.”

Her friend Dylan Reynolds said: “We heard a commotion. The cows were making a huge rumpus, they were mooing and mooing and mooing. A few minutes later one of the dogs came in. It was battered and bruised and shaking and bloody and had obviously been kicked or trampled. Then the staff started running about over to the field and on the phone and the air ambulance arrived and then the land ambulance.”

Mr Reynolds, who was also visiting from London, added: “It is unbelievable. We were walking in that field with my dog only the day before and taking pictures of the cows.”

An ambulance spokesman said: “The 45-year-old woman was deceased when the crew arrived. It is believed she was trampled by cows but there is a query as to whether she died of her injuries or of a cardiac arrest before or during the incident. We were all very saddened.”

Police spokesman Anne-Marie Breach said: “A woman in her 40s has died after she was trampled by a stampede of cows. She was out walking her dog along a footpath across a field with cows and a bull in it when the stampede occurred.”

A spokesman from the Health and Safety Executive said: “The HSE is looking into whether this is a work related incident, and from the initial enquiries will decide whether a full HSE investigation will be launched.”

One nearby resident said she had walked there with her dogs for 10 years, without any problems from the cows.

Although the dogs were on leads at the start of the walk, they were not wearing leads after the attack. It is not clear whether the owner had already taken them off the lead or had released them for her own safety once the cows started to threaten her.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said dog walkers can face problems from cows, especially if they have cows have calves with them. She said: “All animals are unpredictable and they can behave in ways you are not expecting. Keep your dog on a lead if you are around animals. If you start to be chased by an animal, let your dog off the lead. That can defuse the situation and is better than trying to protect it.”

NFU spokesman Brian Finnerty said: “It is obviously a very tragic incident. The thoughts of everyone are with the family involved.

“These are rare incidents but not unheard of. Cattle can become aggressive, particularly if they are protecting calves or otherwise stressed.”

Deaths caused by cows are more common among farmers than members of the public. Between 1996 and 2006 there were 46 incidents involving cows and the public, of which seven were deaths. In July last year, a 65-year-old man was trampled to death by a herd of cows while walking his dog in a field near his home in Wigan. In June 2005, a woman of 66 died after being trampled by a cow while walking her dog through a field in Warwickshire. In 1998 farmer Michael Barnes was killed by a bull in Forncett St Peter, near Diss.