A woman has been seriously injured in a freak attack by a stag.
Kate Stone, a Cambridge University academic, was gored by the animal near Fort William in the Highlands in what has been described as a “one-in-a-million” incident.
The 44-year-old had to be airlifted to hospital in Glasgow and was treated in intensive care at Southern General Hospital, with injuries to her neck and spine caused by the stag’s antlers. She was later reported to be in a “serious but stable” condition.
The attack happened in the early hours of Monday 30 December, when Dr Stone and a group of friends were standing outside a private residence in Lochailort.
The Press and Journal reported that the stag appeared to single out Dr Stone who, standing at 6ft, was the tallest of the group.
The group were on a short break in the Highlands and were staying at the nearby Mo-Dhachaidh B&B, owned by Gary Burton.
Mr Burton said he heard about the attack when one of Dr Stone's friends returned at around 2.30am.
"I think what happened was that the stag panicked. It was trapped in a fenced garden having got through a gate. I don't think there was anywhere else to go and it charged out of the gate," he said. "It's very bizarre and very horrific."
The group was left shocked by the attack but managed to help Dr Stone and contact the emergency services, Mr Burton said.
He added: "The last I heard was late last night that Kate is still in intensive care."
"This is a one-in-a-million event which has shocked the whole community. We are at one with nature in Lochailort, and we have deer all around us. We are all hoping and praying that Kate pulls through.
"I don't pry into our guests personal lives but I had a conversation with Kate and I know she is a very outdoors person, and loves camping and walking. It would be a tragedy if she couldn't do that anymore."
Dr Stone has a PhD in physics and micro-electronics and is now a research engineer in Cambridge University’s Institute of Manufacturing.
It is feared that she could be left paralysed by the attack.