A dog walker was trampled to the ground by a herd of cows before one ran at him as he lay injured and delivered a fatal blow to his chest, an inquest has heard.
David Clark, 59, was walking through a field in the Yorkshire Dales on September 21 last year when he was set upon by the cows which may have been protecting their calves.
The married father-of-three was floored by an initial stampede before one of the enormous cows turned around and ran straight into him in Richmond, North Yorks.
Mr Clark, a deputy headteacher, lost consciousness a short time later and was pronounced dead at the scene despite the best efforts of locals and paramedics.
At a jury inquest in Harrogate this week, it was heard the field contained calves and cows that may have been attempting to protect their young at the time of the tragedy.
Witness Rachel Taylor told the court she was in her garden at around 6pm when she saw Mr Clark “bobbing” along the horizon, approaching a gate connecting two fields
The court heard her attention was drawn moments later by the sound of cattle “bawling”, which Ms Taylor said indicated they were “not happy”.
When she looked again there were “up to 20 cows” in the area where Mr Clark had previously been and she could no longer see him, it was heard.
The two pet dogs, which Ms Taylor had not initially seen, were running around the cattle, it was heard.
Ms Taylor and her husband rushed to the scene a short distance away and found Mr Clark sitting on a hill with his legs out in front of him.
As they got closer to the man, they saw a single cow run straight at him and strike him in the chest.
Ms Taylor said: “One cow in particular turned back and ran at him and it hit him straight in the chest and going up the hill.”
Summarising the witness’s critical evidence, the coroner said: “The cow literally bowled him up the hill.”
She told the court Mr Clark remained conscious but was unable to move to safety and shook his head when asked if he could get up and enter their car.
Ms Taylor added: “I was on the phone to 999 when I heard a noise and a groan and he lay back.”
She told the jury Mr Clark became unresponsive and that another local, Tim Rothwell, rushed to the scene attempted CPR before an air ambulance landed.
Paramedics attempted to revive the man, it was heard, but they could not save him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Rothwell and Ms Taylor both told the court they were unaware of issues previously caused by the herd of cows in question.
He said: “There are no instances I’m aware of with those cattle and walkers.”
Ms Taylor added: “People pass through there all the time and the cows just sit there.”
The court heard the incident happened on a public footpath through a field on Low Ginger Fields Farm in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Farmer David Turnbull told the jury his family had farmed the land for more than 50 years and that they have around 1,700 cows and 1,400 sheep.
He added that, at the time of the incident, there was a sign on a gate Mr Clark passed through urging dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead.
Mr Turnbull told the jury footfall through his fields had increased by up to three times since the start of the pandemic and added that this did pose a risk.
He said: “The risk is that dogs are running freely. Cattle will protect their calves.”
In a tribute to Mr Clark at the time of his death, headteacher Jenna Potter described him as the “heart and soul” of Richmond School.
She said: “He was an enormous character, a brilliant school leader and simply a lovely man who enriched the life of everyone he came into contact with.”
Outside work, Dave was a keen sportsman. He loved the Dales and spent countless hours cycling, walking and walking on the moor, Richmond School added in a statement.
The inquest, presided over coroner John Broadbridge, continues.
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