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17th Jan 2023

Man killed and woman paralysed after being trampled by herd of cows in horror stampede

Steve Hopkins

Awful news.

A man was killed and his widow left paralysed when they were trampled by a herd of cows as they walked their daughter’s dogs during their lunch break, an inquest has heard.

Michael Holmes was pronounced dead at the scene and his widow Teresa was airlifted to hospital after being trampled as they crossed a field on a public right of way with the two whippets in September 2020.

The 57-year-old suffered 35 rib fractures and the sack of his heart was lacerated, and the heart bruised, during the incident just 20 feet from the end of the path.

A pathologist ruled that the injuries to Michael’s chest on their own were not survivable, a jury inquest into his death was told.

Teresa, who was knocked unconscious, awoke in hospital a week later and was told her husband died.

She subsequently spent six months in hospital as she rehabilitated from her injuries. These included spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries and fractured ribs.

Held at Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Centre, the inquest was told Teresa took medical retirement due to her injuries that have left her in a wheelchair permanently.

She told the court that she and Michael, who was her husband of 34 years and worked in Telecoms, would regularly walk the route during their lunch breaks.

This was as they worked from home during lockdown.

“We were both working from home and it became a routine to get out every day for half an hour for a walk,” Teresa told the hearing.

“We set off just after 12 with the dogs. Both dogs were used to each other and we had them both on fixed leads.

“We were aware that there were sometimes cattle on the field.

“Quite often we would come in the reverse way to the field and we’ve seen cattle and said we won’t go across the field. We’d take a different route.

“I don’t remember the incident, which is a good thing really because what happened must have been horrific.”

The court heard the couple, from Leeds, moved to Netherton on the outskirts of Wakefield in West Yorkshire in 2016 with the hope of their house becoming their “retirement home”.

The inquest heard that their daughter Laura asked if they could care for her whippets, Neville and Luna, as their regular dog walker was unavailable.

The couple agreed and took them for a walk through a nearby farmers field on 29 September at around noon, a route Teresa says they took lots of times.

Teresa said that, because there were signs urging dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead, the couple thought it would be safe to take the dogs through the field.

But as they approached the end of the footpath, which is in the middle of the field, they were attacked.

Footage from a nearby CCTV camera shown to the jury captured the moment the cows “accelerated” towards Michael and Teresa.

Teresa said to the court she did not remember the incident but was told later the dogs had escaped the stampede.

They were found by a neighbour with their fixed leads on who sounded the alarm.

The court heard an air ambulance was sent to the scene. However, nothing could be done to save Michael.

“He was a family man, he loved his family. His family meant everything to him,” Teresa said, speaking of her husband.

“He had a very dry sense of humour and I do miss that.

“He had his own unique wit.”

The inquest continues.

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