A highly-respected university professor has been trampled to death by a rampaging herd of cows while out walking his dog.
Michael Porter, 66, was crushed when the 30 bovines stampeded as he crossed a farmer’s field in Turleigh, Wiltshire, with two dogs.
Mr Porter’s brother John, 72, was left fighting for his life with a collapsed lung and broken ribs after Monday’s attack. John’s wife Mary, 77, witnessed the terrifying charge but escaped unharmed.
Remarkably, it is the fourth cow attack in the sleepy village in five years.
Mr Porter, a recently retired senior lecturer at the Centre for Population Health Sciences at Edinburgh University, suffered chest injuries on his son Nick’s 31st birthday.
Nick and brother Robert, 28, were last night comforting mother Adrienne Sillar, at their home in Edinburgh.
Two air ambulances and a land vehicle attended the tragic incident at around 12.45pm. Michael was pronounced dead at the scene, but John was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the South Western Ambulance Service said: “One male patient suffered chest injuries and was declared deceased at the scene.
“The second male’s injuries were thought to be non-life threatening but he deteriorated after complaining of pain on his left side.
“Two air ambulances and a land vehicle attended the incident.”
The field is a popular cut through for walkers, leading ramblers from the picturesque village of Turleigh to the Kennett and Avon canal in Bradford-on-Avon, and has a public footpath running through it.
The killer cows have been removed from the tragic scene to a nearby field.
Alison Bossom, 59, has lived near the family in Monkton Combe, Somerset, for 27 years and described them as “good Christian people”.
She revealed Mr Porter, who has a grown up son and daughter, had worked in agriculture while wife Mary, 77, worked in education before the pair retired.
Mrs Bossom added: “It really has surprised me and I have only just found out who was involved.
“They are good Christian people and very neighbourly – always have been.
“It is an awful shock to find out this has happened to someone you know, especially John as he certainly knew his way around a farm.
“I believe he is retired now, but he worked in something to do with agriculture. I did not know his brother though. I feel terrible for them, especially Mary.”
Locals said the cows who trampled the tragic 66-year-old to death belonged to farmer Brian Godwin, who either rents or owns the land where the tragedy unfolded.
It is understood he lives two miles from the field at Timothy Rise Farm, in Winsley Hill, Bath.
A woman at the farm house on Tuesday said nobody wanted to comment. It is the fourth time cows in the fields near Turleigh have injured walkers.
In 2011 a metal engineer was left with two broken vertebrae in his neck and a severe leg injury after he was charged by a cow on a Turleigh field.
David Billington was walking home from The Cross Guns pub in October 2011 when he was knocked to the ground by a cow and trampled on.
He suffered injuries to the head, neck and legs which left him unconscious in the field for more than an hour-and-a-half.
Due to the nature of his neck injuries Mr Billington had to wear a Halo Brace for 12 weeks and needed a skin graft on his left calf.
At the time of the incident his sister, Cathy Hough said: “This is a route David takes frequently and he’d never thought anything like this would happen.
“He has said to me he’d like to warn people who take that commuter path to be fully aware of the dangers and how unpredictable cows can be.
“We wouldn’t like to see this happen to anyone else and there needs to be extra safety measures put in place.”
Simon Dark, who was trampled by cows while walking his dog on a public footpath near the field in 2008, said there was a need for action to be taken.
He said: “I was walking my dog on a public footpath and the cows circled us.
“I picked her up and pushed my way through, but when I put her down again they charged at me, knocking me over and trampling me.
“I only survived because a man came out of a cottage nearby to help. He was also knocked over, and suffered a collapsed lung.”
Mr Dark said the situation was getting more dangerous, and something needed to be done.
He said: “The cows are getting more and more dangerous, and I said it was only a matter of time before someone was killed.
“Something needs to be done about them. It was a terrifying experience and I don’t go near any fields with cows now.”
Retired Paul Harris, a local resident who walks his dogs through the fields joined the call for action.
He said: “It really is concerning. It makes me wonder if there is a rogue cow, because I believe there wasn’t even any calves in the field.
“You would think once would be enough for the farmers to maybe do something to try and protect people, but then again I do understand you can’t protect every walker and if you start putting up fences and things they could not get their vehicles through.”
Geraldine Ng (corr), who owns stables which overlook the scene, said the whole village was in shock.
She said: “Everyone is incredibly depressed really, it is such a shock to happen so close.
“I can only imagine that maybe they did not know there were cows in there, because sometime there is not.
“It is such a beautiful and popular walk down to the pub – it’s awful what has happened.”
A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive said they will be investigating.
Condolences to Mr. Porter’s family and friends.
The article does not mention any dogs with Mr. Porter. It would be interesting to find out if indeed there were no calves at the time of the trampling. For then the attack would be rather unprovoked.
Is there no way to install a fence along the popular path? Some barbed wires, perhaps?
As a dog walker in San Francisco, I need only watch out for the cars.