A WOMAN has told how she thought she was going to die when she was attacked by a cow while walking in the Sussex countryside.

Abby Colmer, 37, from Westdean, Brighton, had to be airlifted to hospital with six broken ribs and a punctured lung after she was charged and trampled by a cow while walking near Devil’s Dyke.

The photographer was taking one of her regular walks across the Downs when an animal from a herd of cattle charged her.

She said: “It was completely terrifying; I thought I was going to die.”

Ms Colmer added: “I was heading back towards my car and there was a little herd of cows with their calves.

“There was one that was looking particularly stroppy so I turned around and walked away to avoid eye contact – then I felt something slam into my back.

“I was winded and I went down, it was ramming me with its head and putting all its weight onto me.

“Six of my ribs down one side were broken and it seemed to go on forever.”

A couple who she passed on the path earlier came to her aid.

She said the cow charged them, knocking down the man, but they managed to scare it off.

The three then had to climb over a barbed wire fence to escape the animal. She said: “I would really like to thank all the amazing people who cared for me – the couple who saved me, the air ambulance crew, the staff at Royal Sussex County Hospital and my family and friends.”

East Sussex County Council has previously issued a warning to ramblers that the usually docile animals can become aggressive – especially when calves are present.

Malcolm McDonnell, East Sussex footpath secretary for The Ramblers, said: “Our beautiful East Sussex countryside is working farmland, which helps form its character and make it such a pleasure to walk in.

“Fortunately attacks by cattle are few and far between, but with any working environment there are certain risks.

“We would urge everyone out walking to be aware of the dos and don'ts, especially at this time of year, but try not to let the very low risk of cattle attacks put you off enjoying the countryside when it is arguably at its loveliest.”

Ms Colmer said she wants to rally to change the law and have better warnings over the dangers of cattle attacks in calving season.

It is understood the farmer took the decision to have the cow destroyed.


AROUND 60 incidents of cow attacks are reported each year.to the Health and Safety executive nationally.

Back in 2007 Inspector Chris Poole of Sussex Police was walking his dog Zack up on the South Downs when he was charged by a herd that left him with broken ribs and a punctured lung.

The National Farmers Union and The Ramblers have issued their joint list of do's and don'ts.

  • Don't try get between cows and their calves · Don't hang onto your dog. If you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog.
  • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way round the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
  • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow just walk on quietly.
  • Do be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
  • Do move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
  • Do keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead.