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Husband, 57, was killed and his wife paralysed when they were trampled by herd of cows as they walked their daughter’s dogs during a lunch break as they worked from home together during lockdown, inquest hears

  • Michael Holmes, 57, died after the trampling in West Yorkshire in 2020
  • Father-of-two suffered 35 rib fractures and sac around his heart was lacerated 
  • Widow Teresa was airlifted to a hospital where she woke up one week later

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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, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene and his widow Teresa was airlifted to hospital after they crossed a field on a public right of way with the two whippets.

The father-of-two suffered 35 rib fractures and the sac of his heart was lacerated, and the heart itself bruised, after they were trampled just 20 feet from the end of the footpath in September 2020 in the West Yorkshire village of Netherton.

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

Michael Holmes, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene and his widow Teresa (pictured together) was airlifted to hospital after they crossed a field on a public right of way with the two whippets

Michael Holmes, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene and his widow Teresa (pictured together) was airlifted to hospital after they crossed a field on a public right of way with the two whippets

The father-of-two (pictured) suffered 35 rib fractures and the sac of his heart was lacerated, and the heart itself, was bruised after they were trampled in September 2020

The father-of-two (pictured) suffered 35 rib fractures and the sac of his heart was lacerated, and the heart itself, was bruised after they were trampled in September 2020

Teresa, who was knocked unconscious during the incident, woke in hospital a week later to be told her husband died.

She told the inquest: ‘It was a very, very traumatic time, quite isolating.

‘I was just really confused, I couldn’t work out why I was there and my daughters eventually had to explain they had lost their dad.’

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

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

She told the court that she and Michael, her husband of 34 years, would regularly walk the route during their lunch breaks as they worked from home during lockdown.

She said: ‘We were both working from home and it became a routine to get out every day for half an hour for a walk.

‘We set off just after 12 with the dogs. Both dogs were used to teach 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.

‘I worked for children’s services at Leeds City Council, I loved that job, but after this, I just felt like I couldn’t do this job.’

The court heard the couple, from Leeds, moved to Netherton on the outskirts of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 2016 with the view of their house being their ‘retirement home’.

During lockdown, Mr Holmes – who worked in telecoms – and Mrs Holmes, who worked in children’s services for Leeds city council, would go for walks during lunch breaks.

The inquest, held at Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Centre, was told Teresa (pictured with Michael) took medical retirement due to her injuries, which have left her permanently in a wheelchair

The inquest, held at Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Centre, was told Teresa (pictured with Michael) took medical retirement due to her injuries, which have left her permanently in a wheelchair

The inquest heard their daughter Laura asked if they could care for her two whippets, Neville and Luna, as their regular dog walker wasn’t available.

The couple agreed to mind the dogs and took them for a walk through a nearby farmers field at around noon on September 29, a route Teresa says they took ‘scores of times’.

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

Footage from a nearby CCTV camera, shown to the jury, captured the moment the cows ‘accelerated’ towards the couple.

Teresa told the court she didn’t remember the incident, but was told later the dogs had escaped the stampede and ran off.

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

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

Speaking of her husband, Teresa added: ‘He was a family man, he loved his family. His family meant everything to him.

‘He had a very dry sense of humour and I do miss that. He had his own unique wit.’

Mrs Holmes said she and Mr Holmes had been in the same field ‘scores’ of times and were aware it ‘sometimes’ had cattle in, but that they did not see them on that day due to the steep hill.

‘I do recall incidents where we came the reverse way and you can see the cows from there,’ she told the hearing.

‘There were times when we’d seen them and decided not to go in the field because I don’t want to cross a field I know has got cattle in.’

Jurors were shown a picture of a sign at the bottom of the field that said: ‘These fields produce your food, clean up after your dog. Please keep your dog in sight and under control.’

Mrs Holmes said there was no sign saying cows with calves were in the field.

‘It’s my understanding there were calves and if they have seen the dogs on the field, even though they were on leads, they would have felt potentially a threat from them,’ she said.

‘I feel there should be some signage there that says “there are cattle with calves”. Had that been the case, we would definitely not have entered.

‘They shouldn’t be on a public footpath where they are likely to charge.’

Mrs Holmes said at the time she had not been aware of any other incidents involving cows in that field.

The inquest heard the Health and Safety Executive had dealt with nine deaths by cow stampedes in five years, but 2020 saw a ‘small spike’.

Michael’s death was the third fatal cow trampling in a month.

Deputy headteacher David Clark died after being trampled by cattle in a field north of Richmond, North Yorkshire, just days earlier.

Malcolm Flynn, 72, was fatally injured when he was charged by cows on land near Thirlwall Castle and Gilsland, Northumberland.

The inquest continues.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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