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Suffolk woman dies in Canadian accident

PUBLISHED: 07:39 25 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 March 2010

A WILDLIFE and environment campaigner from Suffolk has been killed on holiday in Canada after a car knocked her off her snowmobile and she was run over by a truck.

A WILDLIFE and environment campaigner from Suffolk has been killed on holiday in Canada after a car knocked her off her snowmobile and she was run over by a truck.

Carole Ferguson, 56, from Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, died after the freak accident on Tuesday, which happened during a holiday with work colleagues.

Friends spoke of their "huge shock" at Ms Ferguson's death and said agriculture and the environment in East Anglia had "lost a great champion".

The public relations manager for crop protection company Bayer had been riding last in a line of snowmobiles crossing the road in the mountainous Mont Valen area, near Chicoutimi, Quebec.

Elene Nepton, spokeswoman for Quebec state police, said: "The others had crossed the road and the guide made the sign to stop and held up both of his hands. We do not know what happened, or if she had seen the sign. Maybe she made a mistake with the accelerator and the brake."

Mrs Nepton said Ms Ferguson had continued on to the road, where her snowmobile was struck by an approaching car. She was thrown out of the vehicle and a truck carrying wood drove over her. "She did not stand a chance," she added.

Police believe her death was an accident and it was unlikely there would be any criminal charges, said Mrs Nepton. But an investigation has been launched to see if the tourists' trail was safe and if they had enough information.

Divorcee Ms Ferguson, who had worked for Bayer for more than 30 years, lived with her long-term partner Liz Ford, and leaves a daughter Sarah, who lives in London.

Dr Joachim Schneider, divisional director of agriculture at Bayer, was one of the group of 16 staff and customers on the trip. They arrived in Canada on January 18 and were due to leave today, but the rest of party decided to cut short the trip after the accident.

He said: "Everyone at Bayer is deeply saddened by what has happened. Carole was a well-respected colleague, both at Bayer and with her contacts in agriculture. She was also much loved by those she worked with."

Ms Ferguson, whose specialist interest was Shetland sheep dogs, was an international dog show judge and last year achieved a life-long ambition to judge at Crufts.

She was also a supporter of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Farm and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

David Barker, an arable and livestock farmer at Westhorpe, near Stowmarket, said he had known Ms Ferguson a long time and had consistently been impressed by her work in promoting wildlife and environment issues.

"It is a huge shock. She promoted environmental understanding on farms and converted a number of farmers to take a keen interest in the environment, such as making sure their use of chemicals was safe and sound," he said.

Mr Barker said one of his favourite memories of Ms Ferguson was her involvement in the growth of new woodland at Grove Farm in Thurston, which had been left as a legacy to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

He added: "She was helping children plant trees and it was typical of her. She also gave a lot of time, money, effort and support to the Schools' Farm Fayre at the Suffolk Showground. I would say that agriculture and the environment has lost a great champion."

Another friend, Jill Carter, said those closest to Ms Ferguson had been "shocked" after hearing of her tragic death.

"Carole was well known locally for her links with schools and was the driving force behind several competitions and events to promote science as a career. She was also passionately interested in conservation and the environment," she said.

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