A fireman has been arrested over the death of a dairy farmer who died when his cattle were allegedly spooked by a fire engine’s siren and stampeded.


Harold Lee was riding a quad bike behind his 100-head herd of Holstein cattle as he and his son, Richard, were taking the animals to be milked at Robins Farm in Burtle, Somerset.

The cows became agitated when a fire engine appeared in their path.

The engine was forced to stop while the Lees tried to move the cattle but about 70 of them stampeded back towards their field, leaving Mr Lee senior, 75, with severe head and chest injuries.

He was airlifted to hospital but died five days after the incident in August 2009.

His family claim the animals were startled by the emergency lights and sounds of the fire engine.

His son Richard said at the time: “We understand they were trying to get to an accident but there was no need for them to have their sirens going.”

He said he asked the driver of the fire engine to turn off the siren so the cattle could be calmed and moved.

Following a six-month investigation Avon and Somerset Police said a 49-year-old man from Somerset had been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by negligence.

The unnamed man, a member of the fire crew, has been bailed until the end of this week.

Mr Lee’s son Andrew claimed the incident could have been avoided had the fire crew waited for just a few minutes as the cows were safely herded off the road.