A SENIOR officer has defended police action following concerns about the treatment of cattle involved in Monday’s tragedy.

A witness from Chirk, who asked not to be named, claimed that although the accident took place at about 4.30pm, it was not until about 8pm that West Mercia Police, who were in charge of the incident, managed to locate someone qualified to take care of the frightened cows inside the stricken cattle truck.

The person who spoke to the Leader also claimed that only 15 of the 42 animals in the truck were saved, and that perhaps six or seven fell from the cattle truck as it hung precariously over the bridge parapet.

Chief Insp Andy Udall, who is leading the investigation into the tragedy, said: “The police priority on arrival at the scene was the preservation of human life and to make the area safe for members of the public and the attending emergency workers.

“Officers clearly consider the wellbeing of animals but protecting human life and safety must and will always take priority.

“Vets are sometimes unable to deal with any animal until it has been contained and is not posing a serious threat, but can be on hand to provide advice to armed police officers and be of assistance in the containment.

“The cattle involved in this incident were dealt with as quickly and humanely as possible to minimise any suffering.

“When the emergency services arrived, one large adult bull in an agitated state was loose and causing a danger to those trying to work in the area. It was humanely destroyed by police firearms officers for safety reasons at about 5.20pm.”

Chief Inspector Udall added: “Four cattle fell from the lorry into the valley on impact, with a further three falling some time later after escaping from the trailer.

“Fifteen cattle were saved, but a significant number of animals inside the vehicle were put down by police on the instruction of the vet, once the scene was made safe.”