A man was killed and his widow was paralyzed when they were trampled by a herd of cows while walking their daughter’s dogs during their lunch break, an inquest has learned.
Michael Holmes, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene and his widow Teresa was airlifted to hospital after crossing a field on a public road with the two whippets.
The father of two suffered 35 rib fractures and the sac of his heart was torn and the heart itself bruised after they were trampled just 20 feet from the end of the footpath in September 2020.
A pathologist ruled that the injuries to his chest alone were not survivable, a jury trial 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 crossing a field on a public road with the two whippets
The father of two (pictured) suffered 35 rib fractures and the sac of his heart was torn and the heart itself bruised after they were trampled just 20 feet from the end of the footpath in September 2020
Teresa, who was knocked unconscious in the incident, awoke in the hospital a week later to learn that her husband had died.
She then spent six months in the hospital as she rehabilitated from her injuries, which included spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries and broken ribs.
The inquest, held at the Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Center, was told that Teresa retired due to her injuries, which left her permanently confined to a wheelchair.
She told the court that she and Michael, her husband of 34 years, would regularly walk the route during their lunch breaks while working from home during the lockdown.
She said: “We both worked from home and it became a routine to go for a half hour walk every day.
‘We left just after 12 with the dogs. Both dogs were used to teach each other and we both had them on a landline.
‘We knew that sometimes there were cattle on the field.
“Many times we came to the field the other way around and saw cattle and said we wouldn’t go across the field. We would take a different route.
“I don’t remember the incident, which is a good thing, because what happened must have been horrific.
“I worked for child protection at Leeds City Council, I loved that job, but after that I felt like I couldn’t do this job.”
The court heard that the Leeds couple moved to Netherton on the outskirts of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 2016, thinking their home was their ‘retirement home’.
During the lockdown, Michael – who worked at Telecom – and Teresa, who worked in child care for Leeds City Council, went for a walk during the lunch break.
The inquest heard that their daughter Laura asked if they could care for her two whippets, Neville and Luna, because their regular dog walking service was unavailable.
The pair agreed to babysit the dogs and took them for a walk around noon on Sept. 29 through a nearby farmer’s field, a route they took “dozens of times,” according to Teresa.
But as they approached the end of the footpath – which is in the middle of the field – they were attacked by the cattle.
The inquest, held at the Wakefield Civil and Family Justice Center, was told that Teresa (pictured with Michael) was on medical retirement due to her injuries, leaving her permanently confined to a wheelchair.
Footage from a nearby CCTV camera, shown to the jury, captured the moment the cows ‘speeded up’ towards the flock.
Teresa told the court she had no recollection of the incident, but was later told the dogs escaped the stampede and ran off.
They were found by a neighbour, with their fixed cables on, who raised the alarm.
The court heard that a trauma helicopter had been sent to 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 humor and I miss that. He had his own unique humor.”
The inquest found that the Health and Safety Executive had dealt with nine deaths from cattle storms in five years, but there was a “small spike” in 2020.
Michael’s death was the third deadly cow trampled 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 attacked by cows on land near Thirlwall Castle and Gisland, Northumberland.
The judicial investigation continues.