Farmer killed by cows in front of his daughter

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The Independent Online

A farmer was tossed by a bull and trampled to death by his own cows in front of his daughter as they worked on the family farm.

John Leslie Ward, 67, was fastening identity tags on to calves on the farm in Ridgeway on the Sheffield-Derbyshire border when a bull attacked him, throwing him into the air. When he landed on the ground, a cow, whose calf the farmer was tagging, began stamping on him.

Mr Ward, known as Les, was dragged away from the animals by his daughter Katie, who called the emergency services and her uncle, who lives nearby.

Miss Ward, 21, said: "It happened so fast. We were in the shed together tagging the calves. A bull came up to him and nudged him and then threw him into the air. That's when the mother started on him. All I remember is her jumping on him. I know she had all her feet on him. I managed to get a stick and get her off him and called an ambulance."

Mr Ward's brother-in-law, Roger Bradley, 65, said: "When I got to the farm he was laid face down. He was alive but couldn't speak. Katie had managed to get the cows off him and rang for help. He was black and blue but still breathing but by the time the ambulance arrived it was too late. I helped by doing chest compressions but I was told the finest doctor in the world couldn't have saved him – his chest was completely smashed to pieces."

He added: "He used to work every hour there was and when he reached 65 I told him he should give up and just keep a few cows to potter about with because his dream was to go to America for two or three months and follow the combines working from the south of the country to the north. But he could not give the farm up – it was his life." Mr Ward had lived on his farm since he was a child.

A Health and Safety Executive spokeswoman said: "We have been made aware of this incident by the police and health and safety inspectors have been out to the site and are assisting the police with their investigation."

An inquest into Mr Ward's death is expected to be opened by the Chesterfield coroner on Tuesday.

British farmers and the Ramblers' Association last summer warned of the potential dangers that cows pose, after four people were trampled to death in a period of only eight weeks. In the past eight years there have been 18 deaths in total caused by cattle, including bulls. A fully-grown cow can weigh anything from three-quarters of a tonne to a tonne. Last month a firefighter was charged with manslaughter and suspended from duty after farmer Harold Lee, 75, was trampled to death by a herd of cows which were spooked by a fire engine siren in Somerset.

The former home secretary David Blunkett last summer suffered a broken rib after being charged by a cow while walking with his guide dog, Sadie, through a Derbyshire field. The National Farmers' Union warned that cows can feel threatened by dogs and are therefore more likely to attack.