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A woman who died after being trampled by a herd of 30 cows while walking her dog was described by devastated pals as a “gentle human being” who “loved” animals.

Horrified local residents told how the 55-year-old was found “covered in blood” near the picture postcard village of Billingshurst in West Sussex, just before noon on Monday.

Some rushed to the stricken woman’s aid before police, paramedics and an air ambulance arrived.

Residents and then 999 crews performed CPR for up to an hour in a desperate bid to save her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her sister rushed to the incident after reading on Facebook that her dog had been found.

Residents claimed a man was injured by the same “crazy” cows in May this year and had to be airlifted to hospital, but survived.

The victim – described as a “gentle human being” – is understood to have been a keen dog walker who worked at a local shop.

A pal, who did not want to be named, said: “I was at home just after it happened and by the time I got there my neighbours were trying to give her CPR.

“I saw the police, ambulances and the air ambulance- then the woman’s sister ran out and saw her lying in the field.”

She said of the woman who died: “She was lovely. She loved animals and she loved her dog. She was a gentle human being.

“The thought that she was trampled by a cow is just hideous. She didn’t even eat them, she was a vegetarian.

“She always walked her dog just past my house.

“I used to work with her in a bar many years ago and she worked in Sainsburys.”

A witness, who did not want to be named, said: “I was maybe the fourth person that got to the field.

“I saw the air ambulance and I said ‘what is going on?’

“The woman was in the middle of the field, halfway across it- maybe 20 yards from the footpath.

“Ambulance crews were giving her CPR and the helicopter turned up.

“They started attending to her and while we were standing on the drive another lady turned up saying ‘I have just seen on Facebook that my sister’s dog has been found, I called my sister and she was not answering.’

“She then found her sister lying on the floor.

“Apparently she was still breathing when my neighbours started to give her CPR and they were going for a long time, probably a good hour.

“Eventually the doctor came over to the sister and took her back, then they stopped the CPR.

“The farmer puts all these signs in the field saying ‘cows with calves are dangerous, don’t cross the path if you have got a dog with you.’

“This is the second incident involving his cows. On May 28 a man was badly injured by cows and he needed to be taken away in a helicopter.

“There are around 30 Limousin cattle in the field. They are mums with calves.

“I saw the lady often walking her Staffie. She used to work in Sainsbury’s.

“She was very friendly and lovely. It is just really sad.”

Belinda Jackson, 52, moved away from the village in April, but told how her former neighbours rushed to try to save the victim.

She said: “My old neighbours were telling me how they tried to resuscitate her.

“She was walking her dog and this is not the first time this has happened to someone in these fields.

“The cows are actually quite violent and they tend to go after dogs in particular, they seem to confuse them with wolves.

“The cows went after her dog and she must have tried to help the dog.

“The poor lady was found covered in blood, she was breathing to begin with and they tried to give her CPR.

“They tried everything and then the helicopter arrived and the paramedics were amazing, I believe they even did open heart surgery or treatment on her.

“My old neighbours and friends have raised the alarm about this before, it can’t be happening.

“There is something crazy about those cows.”

Police are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

But detectives say the death of the woman is not being treated as suspicious.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We are appealing for witnesses after an incident at a farm in Billingshurst on Monday.

“Emergency services responded to concerns for the welfare of a woman seen in a field in Rowner Road at about 11.40am.

“Sadly, the 55-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Her next of kin have been informed.

“The woman had sustained her injuries after being trampled by cattle in the field. The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

He added: “Officers are investigating and have appealed for any witnesses in the area at the time to come forward.”