United Kingdom

Mum trampled to death by cows while walking dog on holiday

Kathy McKellar loved baking and playing tennis, her son said (Picture: MEN Media)

A mum who ‘loved to be outside’ with her dog has been trampled to death by a herd of cows.

Kathy McKellar had been holidaying in a cottage in Grindleton, Lancashire, with her cockapoo Archie last year.

On the afternoon of September 25, Kathy took Archie out for a walk through farmland on their way to Pine Wood.

But cottage owner John Turner later that day was stunned to see Archie had made his way back without Ms McKellar, leading him to call 999 and look for her.

She was found dead the next morning in a field grazed by 25 Limousin cows with calves and a bull. 

Ms McKellar’s body was discovered by Scriddles Croft Farm owner David Towler.

She was lying face down with her arm under a wire fence at the other end of the field from where a public footpath crosses through it.

An inquest held yesterday at Accrington Town Hall heard how Mr Towler has both beef cattle and sheep on his 200-acre farm.

His herd included Limousin cows that can weigh up to 1,000 kilos.

Kathy McKellar had been staying in a holiday cottage near Grindleton (Picture: MEN Media)

As he went outside on the morning of September 26 as he had done so many times, Mr Towler noticed a bag of grass.

‘I went to where it was and that’s when I could see the deceased,’ Mr Towler said.

Emergency services pronounced her dead at the scene, with detectives noting she had several injuries consistent with being trampled by cattle.

Ms McKellar died from traumatic chest injuries including shattered vertebrae and ribs, a post-mortem showed.

Mr Towler said it was unlikely that her dog spooked the cows into potentially stamping on Ms McKellar as his livestock are used to his own dog being around.

He’s never had any incidents about the cows’ temperament either. ‘They can be quite protective when they have calves but only in the first few weeks; these calves were around five months old,’ Mr Towler added.

A similar incident took place in Mr Towler’s fields in 2018, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommending he move the water and feed troughs and prop up a warning sign.

The government agency’s inspector, Shellie Bee, visited the farm a few weeks following Ms McKellar’s death and found the sign had fallen down.

But even if it were still up, it was unlikely Ms McKellar would have seen it anyway as she came from a different gate, the inspector said.

Her cockapoo Archie ran back to the cottage she was holidaying in (Picture: MEN MEDIA)

The HSE concluded Mr Towler followed all guidance around farmers keeping the public safe from livestock but ordered him to fence off the public footpath.

The specific circumstances leading up to Ms MeKellar’s death are still unclear, the inquest heard.

Ms McKellar’s son Andy said his mum was a ‘fiercely independent woman who loved tennis, walking and baking.

‘She would go on this sort of holiday regularly, she did everything for herself, and she brought up my brother and I pretty much on her own,’ he said.

‘She loved being outside and walking the dog; it was their happy place. Mum grew up in Clitheroe, that’s where her family is from, but she moved to Macclesfield when she had me.

‘We lost my nan two years ago from old age so mum liked to come back up here to feel more connected to her part of the world. Although she was 74 she was still working part-time.’

Though, Andy voiced concerns about HSE’s approach to protesting people from livestock, given the agency advised farmers, rather than enforcing rules.

On average, one person dies each year in the UK from being trampled by cattle, the inquest heard.

‘People have died because they are just guidelines and that doesn’t feel good enough,’ Andy added.

‘Guidelines are guidelines; you don’t have to follow them and I just don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.’

Assistant Coroner Kate Bisset returned a narrative conclusion.

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