She died protecting her dog, says friend of woman trampled by cows
The devastated family of a retired accounts clerk trampled to death by a herd of cows yesterday paid tribute to a “lovely” woman who died along with her dog in the stampede.
Devoted dog owner Sandra Wiltshire, 68, was walking golden labrador Bruce, aged 11, in a field near their home when the cattle spooked and charged.
Both Mrs Wiltshire and her dog were seriously injured in the crush and Mrs Wiltshire – who had walked in the field for 20 years – died at the scene minutes later after suffering a cardiac arrest. Bruce was taken to a vet but his injuries were too severe and he was put down later that day.
Yesterday, devastated friends and family paid tribute to Mrs Wiltshire, who had owned rescue dog Bruce for nine years.
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Grieving husband George Wiltshire, who lived with Sandra just streets away from the field in Chippenham, described her as “a wonderful woman”.
Retired lorry driver George said: “She was lovely. I loved her to bits. She looked after me brilliantly. I have lost both Sandra and Bruce.”
Mrs Wiltshire and Bruce were discovered by two dog walkers after they were trampled at around 8.30am last Thursday.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene on the banks of the River Avon were unable to save Mrs Wiltshire.
Clive and Joan Rathband, were close friends and neighbours to Mrs Wiltshire, They said said she had probably died protecting her beloved dog.
Mrs Rathband said: “I think she would have died protecting her dog. She would have defended him to the death.
“Bruce was very old and wasn’t capable of running. He could just waddle along. Sandra was friends to everyone. She loved animals. She was always immaculately dressed, enjoyed singing and was an avid reader. She always cared for her elderly relatives.”
Mr Rathband, a friend of Mrs Wiltshire for 50 years, said: “Bruce was the most placid dog I have ever met. Nothing fazed him.
“He was just friendly with every dog he met and every person he met. He and Sandra were absolutely devoted to each other. She loved walking, and walked Bruce twice a day. Bruce loved the river.”
The fields where Mrs Wiltshire died are on the banks of the River Avon and an official footpath runs through the top.
But the lower part of the fields by the side of the river – where Mrs Wiltshire was – are not a footpath but are popular with walkers.
Friend Chris Jones, who has two boxer dogs, lives close to Mrs Wiltshire and has known her for the last 20 years.
She said: “Sandra visited the fields twice or sometimes three times a day.
“That’s the first serious incident that has been there.
“She was brave and not stupid. There was no way Bruce was antagonising those cows. He was a plodder.
“If anything happened to Bruce, Sandra would have rescued him.”
Wiltshire police are investigating the circumstances of Mrs Wiltshire’s death on behalf of Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley.
It is not yet clear exactly what happened to cause the cows to trample the pensioner and her dog.
She was able to tell walkers who found her what happened before passing away.
Mrs Wiltshire’s distraught mother, Brenda Beint, 91, who lives in Calne, Wiltshire, with husband Leonard, said her daughter was “lovely”.
She said: “We are in absolute shock. I cannot tell you how much I miss her.
“Sandra was a lovely, bubbly personality and she and I always enjoyed our time together so much.
“We tried to get out to have lunch together at least once a fortnight or three weeks and we went out last Wednesday.
“It was lovely, and I am so glad that we did that.”
The owner of the cows involved in the incident – which have since been removed from the land – is believed to be Brian Mifflin, of Grove Farm, Langley Burrell.
Mr Mifflin was not available for comment.
An inquest into Mrs Wiltshire’s death will be held at a later date.