Farmer trampled to death by cattle as daughter looked on

A FARMER was trampled to death by his own cattle in front of his horrified daughter after a bull turned against him as the pair tried to put identity tags on their calves.

John Ward was thrown into the air by the bull as he and his 21-year-old daughter Katie were working in a barn on their farm on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Mr Ward's daughter said her father, 67, did not stand a chance after the bull knocked him down, because a cow then began to stamp on him, leaving him with massive internal injuries.

The animals are thought to have turned on experienced farmer Mr Ward, of Geer Lane Farm, Geer Lane, Ridgeway, because he was trying to hold the young calves to tag them.

Health and Safety inspectors have been called in to examine the scene on the farm, which lies on the border between Sheffield and Derbyshire, near the village of Mosborough.

The police were also called and have launched an inquiry.

Devastated Miss Ward said her father, who was known to his friends and family as Les, knew what he was doing and had been working with cattle for much of his life.

She said she had been forced to fight the animals off her father using a stick before dragging him out of the barn. She then called 999 and phoned her uncle who lives nearby for help.

Miss Ward added: "The farm was his life – he worked every hour there was. What happened is all a blur. 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, all over.

"I know she had all her feet on him. I managed to get a stick and get her off him and then I rolled him away."

Miss Ward has had to continue to care for her father's herd since the incident last Wednesday and has fed the cattle, including the bull and cow which killed her father, every day since.

Her uncle Roger Bradley, 65, who also lives in Geer Lane, Ridgeway, said he had rushed to the scene but added that no one could have saved Mr Ward.

He added: "I have known Les all my life, he used to be married to my wife's sister. His daughter rang me to say he had been trampled and when I got to the farm he was lying 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 did some chest compressions but I was told the finest doctor in the world couldn't have saved him."

Mr Bradley said he had advised Mr Ward to slow down when he got to retirement age and reduce the number of animals he kept, but it was difficult for the committed farmer to give up work.

He added: "He used to work every hour there was on the farm and when he reached 65 I told him he should give up and just keep a few cows to potter about with.

"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 total life."

Mr Ward had lived on his farm since he was a child. He started working in Ridgeway and the surrounding villages as a milkman before growing his own potatoes on his land, which he used to sell to customers on his milk round.

After selling his milk business several years ago he bought more land in the area, invested his money in more animals and began farming cattle full time.

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

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

STAMPEDE DANGERS

Mr Ward's death is the latest in a series of incidents in which people have been trampled by cattle.

Last June Francis Crowsley, 49, from Warrington, Cheshire, was killed after a herd of cows stampeded towards her while she was on holiday in North Yorkshire. It is thought her two pet dogs may have spooked the cattle as she walked in a field in the village of Gayle, near Hawes.

Another woman, Marie Cook, had to be airlifted from a field near Skipton after a herd of cows attacked her and her husband, leaving her with a shattered ankle, just nine days before Ms Crowsley died.

A farmer from a village near Bristol was also killed last year after his cows knocked him over and trampled him after apparently being frightened by a fire engine.