A lack of witnesses forced an inquest in Cumbria to record a “narrative verdict’” on the death of Linlithgow zoo keeper Sarah McClay.
Now Sarah’s grieving mum, Fiona, Sarah’s siblings and partner David Shaw await the finding of a health and safety investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death at South Lakes Wild Animal Park near Dalton-in-Furness in May 2013.
Sarah (24) died shortly after being mauled by the park’s male Sumatran tiger, Padang.
It is understood a faulty bolt on an internal door within the tiger’s enclosure left Sarah at the mercy of the big cat she cared for.
Under normal circumstances, the keepers and cats are never in the same part of the enclosure.
However, Padang was able to walk through two internal sliding gates before entering the area where Sarah was working.
The tiger pounced on her, dragged her into its den and then into an external part of the enclosure.
Zoo owner David Gill was on the scene almost immediately, armed with a gun to fend the tiger off.
He was eventually able to get off a shot which scared Padang back into the rear section of the enclosure, allowing the emergency services to go to Sarah’s aid.
She was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
After the inquest in Kendal, Sarah’s boyfriend, David Shaw, read a statement on behalf of her family.
He said: “The council in Barrow is still conducting its investigation and it would be wrong of us to say anything before it has concluded.
“There are always questions we would like answered.
“Sarah’s death has been difficult for us all and we hope today’s conclusion will help us move forward in some way.”
Fiona McClay declined to add to that statement when contacted by the Journal and Gazette this week.