An 87-year-old woman was killed by a herd of ‘berserk’ cattle when she was walking her dog in the Sussex countryside.
Hilary Adair was knocked to the ground by Belted Galloway cows before being repeatedly trampled as she tried to get up on Linchmere Common in Sussex, on January 7.
An inquest heard she was then airlifted to St George’s Hospital in London but never regained consciousness and died a week later.
Her death must lead to greater awareness of the dangers cows can pose, a coroner said at the inquest in Crawley on Friday.
Mrs Adair was unaware that a couple and their dogs were chased and ‘covered in blood’ in an attack from the same cows the day before.
But the inquest was told that those responsible for the animals did not realise the seriousness of the attack and viewed it as an ‘isolated incident’.
Bryony Dillamore witnessed the attack and said she did not see any signs to suggest it was unsafe to enter the common.
She said: ‘I then noticed that the cattle surrounding what I then understood was an elderly person… with blood all over her head and chest.’
The cattle became more aggressive when Hilary tried to move it and Bryony got the ambulance service to rescue Hilary from the animals which were ‘completely out of control’.
Rachel Thompson told the inquest how she and her husband Carl were set upon by the same cattle herd the day before.
She said they ‘got the sensation that some cows had come behind us’ and were very close before hearing one bellow and they started to run.
Mrs Thompson said: ‘One of them hit me in the right side of the ribs and knocked me flying. I was lying there terrified. I was waiting to be trampled, I was bracing myself for it.’
Her husband managed to beat them away with a stick while his wife got to her feet, the inquest heard.
But the attack continued and Mr Thompson was left bleeding from his injuries when they managed to escape.
Edwin Brooks, a director of the Lynchmere Community Grazing CIC and who manages the cattle, had been contacted by the couple.
He told the inquest how he was not aware of the seriousness of the couple’s incident and planned to ‘monitor the situation’ with his colleague the following morning when Ms Adair was later attacked.
Mr Brooks said the cattle have now been removed from the area.
He told inquest: ‘We would take that decision to reintroduce cattle really seriously and it would not happen without changes being made. Until then we are not putting those cows on public access land.’
Senior coroner Penelope Schofield concluded that Mrs Adair’s death was accidental.
She said: ‘Mrs Adair was particularly vulnerable. She really didn’t stand a chance against a herd of agitated cows.’
It was made ‘particularly sad’ that she ‘met her death on the very land that she loved so much’.
But she hopes the incident raises awareness of the dangers of cattle if they are antagonised and people take care when they see them – as ‘even the most docile cow will attack if they feel threatened’.