A DOG walker nearly died when she was savaged by a herd of rampaging cows as she crossed a public field.
Keen hiker Sharon Eley was surrounded by 20 cows, led by an agitated “ringleader,” who tossed her to the ground twice before they repeatedly headbutted her in the five-minute attack in May.
However the 51-year-old was almost garrotted when the strap on her leather bag wrapped around her throat, leaving her with a huge ligature mark commonly seen on hanging victims.
The glamping business owner also suffered a catalogue of other horror injuries including 15 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a dislocated and shattered left ankle, a broken clavicle and severe bruising.
Other walkers entered the other end of the field and managed to distract the beasts so that all but one charged towards them instead. They escaped unharmed.
After Sharon managed to drag herself to her feet for a third time, she was involved in a stand-off with one remaining cow who eventually backed down.
Sharon, who feared she’d die at the hands of the angry herd, was forced to painfully crawl to the edge of the field and haul herself over a dry-stone wall to safety.
A horrified pal managed to have a Mountain Rescue team sent out after ringing 999, who rushed her to hospital.
There, Sharon underwent two surgeries on her ankle and a month later was finally allowed home.
Sharon, who is still healing, is now urging walkers to be aware of their surroundings on walks so that if the worst should happen they can get help straight away.
Sharon, from Blacko, Lancashire, said: “It was terrifying. I thought ‘oh my god I’m actually going to die by a cow attack, I’ve not done my will’.
“They pushed me over, I was on my hands and knees and I didn’t know how to get out.
“They’d got all around me and all I could see was hooves after hooves after hooves.
“I stood up and then they pushed me down again. I was on my hands and knees again and then they were headbutting me on my back.
“I was wearing a hard leather backpack handbag and they were hitting it. The next minute they’d snapped the arm off my backpack, that had gone round my neck and it was choking me.
‘LUCKY TO BE ALIVE’
“I’m very lucky to be alive.”
Keen hiker Sharon was out walking with her five-year-old Lhasa Apso Ralphie and a pal and her dog around the Pendle countryside in Lancashire on May 22.
Sharon, who’d racked up more than 30 miles in four days as part of her training for the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge, had walked the same route the day before and had no problems.
After meandering through countryside and woodland that morning, the official route Sharon was following took the pair and their two dogs, through two fields.
After safely securing each dog and keeping them on a short lead, the pair climbed over a stile and into the first field with no problem.
It was as they entered the second field that they spotted 20 cows, including calves, huddled in the corner of the field about 20ft away from them.
Sharon, who owns rural glamping retreat Valley Pendle View, said: “My friend said to me ‘oh god I’m not sure about this Sharon’ and I said ‘it’s ok, we’ll just wide berth them. Don’t worry, don’t run, it’s all good, just stand behind me, don’t worry about it’.
“Ralphie was on his lead, he didn’t bark at them.
“There were about 20 of them and as we started walking they started walking to us.
“Then the cows ran and that’s quite a scary experience, they skidded and stopped in front of us.
“They were just out of arm’s reach and one of them was snorting.
“I was thinking ‘this isn’t very good’. Someone had once said to make yourself look big – put your arms out but don’t agitate them – and they will go away.
“I’ve tried that before when I’ve been walking and it’s worked.
“When they got too close I put my arms up, I didn’t shoo them or make any noises, but then they started to come closer.
“They herded together as I tried to walk slowly away and the next minute they charged and pushed me over.”
During the five-minute attack, during which Ralphie managed to escape his lead unharmed, Sharon was subjected to repeated headbutts from the herd that caused catastrophic injuries.
Sharon said: “When I managed to stand up and I went to put my foot down, it wasn’t attached to my leg.
“I had really good hiking boots on and I went to put my foot down it just went to the side.
“Somebody entered the field at the other end so they all charged down the field at this other person.
“There was one cow in front of me, again at arm’s length, so it was a stand-off now between this one cow that was just snorting and staring at me.
“I thought ‘this is game over now because I can’t actually move’.
“What felt like an hour, but was probably about three seconds, this cow just snorted and then walked off.
“My friend was screaming for me to get out of the field, she tried to help me but I screamed at her to get off because I was in pain.
“My adrenaline kicked in and I crawled on my hands and knees to get to the drystone wall.
“I got to the wall, turned over, threw my legs over and shimmied over it. Everything in my body was aching.
“At this stage my friend was on the phone to 999 and I told her our location from the what3words app on my phone.”
RUSHED TO HOSPITAL
Mountain Rescue arrived 10 minutes later, assessed her and rushed to Royal Preston Hospital.
There she underwent a number of scans and x-rays before being wheeled into surgery later that evening.
Surgeons realigned her foot and inserted metal framework to hold it in place before a second operation eight days later to insert metal plates.
Sharon spent five days in ICU and two weeks in the major trauma unit before being transferred to Burnley General Teaching Hospital in Lancashire for nine days of rehabilitation.
Sharon said: “When the paramedics arrived they tried to give me a drink but I couldn’t move my neck.
“When we got to major trauma it was like a scene out of ER. They hooked me up to a morphine IV and I had loads of scans and x-rays.
“It was quite scary because I didn’t actually want to ask what was wrong with me.
“It’s weird as much as I thought I’d be dead brave and want to know everything at that stage I didn’t dare ask, I was really scared.
“I didn’t know what was wrong with me or whether I was going to die or not.
“I had surgery on my broken and dislocated ankle. They couldn’t reattach it so they put some metalwork in to keep it all aligned.
“Eight days later they took the metal frame out and they went in to fix the bones, I’ve now got three big metal plates in my foot.
“The staff were great, I can’t praise them enough.”
After four weeks in hospital Sharon was discharged but is still on a cocktail of drugs, including morphine, to ease the pain.
15 BROKEN RIBS
Sharon said: “I have 15 broken ribs, I had a broken clavicle, a punctured lung, I was black and blue with bruising all over my back and I got throttled as well in the process.
“The broken ribs will take four months to heal, I’m probably another six weeks from them healing properly.”
After her ordeal, Sharon was still at a loss as to what would cause the cows to suddenly charge at her, but believes one encouraged the rest to follow.
Sharon said: “I live rurally and was talking to my local farmer friend about it and I explained to him there was a ringleader.
“I asked if it was because I had a bright red jacket on, but he said cows are colour blind.
“He said that when cows calve you may get one who is a little bit temperamental, all the other cows just follow.
“I’m quite a strong and resilient person, I have really good days but I do have really bad days too.
“The bad days are frustrations when you can’t do something – I can’t drive my car, I can’t take my dog for a walk and I can’t do the things that I love.
“But you’ve got to listen to what the doctor’s saying. I’m positive, it’s going to get better.
“My friend is going through her own trauma from what she witnessed and not being able to physically help.”
Sharon said that despite what happened, she still plans to get out as soon as she’s able to.
Sharon said: “I’m in a walking boot now and I’m already planning a walk on the canal next week.
“I’d like to think the experience hasn’t put me off hiking.
“I was ultra-cautious before around cows so I do worry. I don’t know whether I would walk through a field with any livestock in it now.”
Sharon is sharing her experience to urge people to be cautious around livestock, and to always know your location in case of an emergency.
Sharon said: “My advice to other walkers and hikers would be to just know your surroundings.
“Know where you are because if you do get seriously injured it could be a case of life or death.
“Always keep dogs on leads like mine and when you are in front of livestock, particularly cows with calves, just be cautious and know that they can charge and they can attack.”
Source: The Sun