Tributes to woman killed by cattle

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a woman killed by stampeding cattle as she walked her dogs on a footpath.

Mark Lord

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a woman killed by stampeding cattle as she walked her dogs on a footpath.

Sandra Pearce, from Worlingham near Beccles, died in the freak accident on Sunday afternoon at South Elmham Hall, near Bungay. She is believed to have been aged 45 and worked as a probation officer at Blundeston prison.

Ms Pearce had lived in Mutford before moving to neighbouring Worlingham. Last night, Mutford resident Maureen Townsend, who knew Ms Pearce, said: “It is very sad, she was a quiet but friendly woman.

“We are farmers ourselves and have cattle, and all we can think is that her dogs must have worried the cows and Sandra got in the way.”

Julie Bullen, who runs the village shop in Mutford, added: “I did not know her very well but she was always very friendly - it is terrible to hear what has happened.”

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It is understood that her father lives in Ipswich.

Health and safety officials are now investigating the death. The hall and farm is a popular with walkers and nature lovers and for its café and restaurant. Ms Pearce was stampeded by the herd of cows in the field near to the car park.

Owner and farmer John Sanderson was first on the scene and tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late. The air ambulance was called out and spent about an hour trying to revive her.

Ms Pearce is thought to have suffered a cardiac arrest, although it is not clear whether it was caused by her injuries.

Mr Sanderson said: “We are all feeling for the family. It is a tragedy. It was a complete shock to me.”

He said the cows in question were his suckler herd, which are brown and white Simmentals.

Lili Gooch, from London, was having lunch when the tragic accident happened. She said she went outside to take a photograph and was having a cigarette when she saw Ms Pearce get out of a red car.

“The two dogs, one a Jack Russell and another quite small dog, like a boxer, were really pulling her along. I looked at her and smiled and she smiled back at me. She had a kind-looking face.

“I decided not to take the picture because I was a bit scared of the cows. They weren't doing anything, but they looked quite serious and I got nervous.

“I went back in, and as we were having our main course this little Jack Russell came in, shaking and with blood everywhere. The dog came for help. That is how everyone knew what had happened.”

An ambulance spokesman said: “The 45-year-old woman was deceased when the crew arrived. It is believed she was trampled by cows but there is a query as to whether she died of her injuries or of a cardiac arrest before or during the incident.”

A spokesman from the Health and Safety Executive said: “The HSE is looking into whether this is a work- related incident, and from the initial inquiries will decide whether a full HSE investigation will be launched.”

Although the dogs were on leads at the start of the walk, they were not wearing leads after the attack. It is not clear whether the owner had already taken them off the lead or had released them for her own safety once the cows started to threaten her.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said dogwalkers could face problems from cows, especially if the cows had calves with them.

She said: “All animals are unpredictable and they can behave in ways you are not expecting. Keep your dog on a lead if you are around animals. If you start to be chased by an animal, let your dog off the lead. That can defuse the situation and is better than trying to protect it.”

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