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Woman saw husband and son killed by buffalo in Wales, inquest hears

·3-min read
The Jump family sold their buffalos’ milk for soap production (File photo) (REUTERS)
The Jump family sold their buffalos’ milk for soap production (File photo) (REUTERS)

A woman witnessed her husband and son being gored to death by a water buffalo at their family farm in south Wales, an inquest has heard.

Ralph Jump, 57, and his son Peter, 19, died from in attack that also left his daughter Isabel, 22, with a serious leg injury.

Gwent Coroner’s Court in Newport heard that the Jump family had kept Mediterranean buffalo on their nine-acre smallholding in Gwehelog, Monmouthshire, since 2016 to sell the milk to use as soap.

Mr Jump’s wife, Josephine, said that their four-year-old bull named Yolo “didn’t like Peter” and would raise its head to watch him on the farm. “The bull never behaved like this with me or [Ralph] and we would keep Peter away from him,” she said.

She told the court that shortly before 3pm on 5 May last year, she was in the kitchen when she noticed a hay ring had been pushed up against an electric fence and asked her husband to go out to the field and move it.

Mrs Jump said she was preparing food when Isabel rushed in shouting that Yolo was “pushing dad down the field” and chased after him with a stick.

“I could see him being rolled down the hill by the bull and I could hear he was groaning. I got between them but it kept trying to get back at him. He was groaning but looked unconscious,” Ms Jump said.

Peter, who was home from university because of the coronavirus pandemic, also raced after his father with an iron baton to “hit the bull away”.

“All of a sudden, the bull started going for Peter, and got him,” Mrs Jump said.

When it again approached her husband, she tried to protect him but realised “he’d gone” because she could no longer hear him.

The bull also attacked Isabel, who was standing in the field while calling emergency services. Mrs Jump said that the bull “dragged around” her daughter before returning to her son.

First responders noted that Peter had an “obvious hole in his neck”. He was airlifted to hospital with “critical injuries” while Mr Jump was pronounced dead in the field. He was later found to have suffered multiple chest injuries, including puncture wounds.

Peter was operated on at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, having suffered rib fractures and lacerations, but could not be properly ventilated because he had blood in his lungs. He died later the same day.

Armed police shot Yolo dead.

Coroner Caroline Saunders told the inquest jury they must determine whether “appropriate steps were taken” in terms of safety at the farm and whether “failings in working practices contributed to the deaths”.

The inquest continues.

Sara Lumley, from the Health and Safety Executive, said evidence from the Jump family showed the bull had displayed previous signs of aggression – but added that even if it had not, “there is no such thing as a safe bull”.

Guidance for keeping cattle says handling them should not be undertaken without precautions put in place, she said. Ms Lumley added that Mr Jump should have entered the field with another person as a lookout and used “some sort of separation or refuge” like a tractor in case they were put in danger.

Coroner Caroline Saunders said she could not say whether Mr Jump intended to move the bull from near the hay ring or whether it attacked him unexpectedly while he was trying to move the hay ring from the fence.

Mr Jump's medical cause of death was given as due to multiple injuries and trauma, and was contributed to by ischemic heart disease.

The inquest jury returned a narrative conclusion for his death, saying his death was “contributed to by not having second person present in the field, and not having a refuge or place of safety in the field”.

Peter Jump's medical cause of death was given as cardiac arrest, lung and abdominal injuries and polytrauma, while the jury concluded his death was as the result of misadventure.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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