Updated: 16-year-old girl killed in Cambridge named as Beth McDermott

Young cyclist killed in two-car collision

by John Stevenson   December 13, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

Cambridgeshire police have named the young cyclist killed in a collision with two cars on Wednesday night as Elizabeth Helen Byrne-McDermott.

Cambridge News reports that her college principal, Christine Sherwin, described her as “a very creative young person with brilliant ideas”.

Beth McDermott was attended by ambulance crews and taken to Addenbrooke’s hospital after the crash between Milton Road and Birch Close, Cambridge just before 7pm.

She died of her injuries during the night.

Ms Sherwin said that Beth's classmates and college staff were struggling to come to terms with what had happened. 

She said: “She was a very creative young person with brilliant ideas and was able to demonstrate an independent approach to her studies very early on in the courses.

“She was committed to her studies and always willing to put in the extra effort to achieve her very best.

“She was a popular student who got on really well with everyone in lessons.

“Staff and students at the college were very upset and are still coming to terms with this devastating news and our sympathies go out to her parents and all those who knew her.”

 

Witnesses reported a bobble hat circled with chalk in the middle of the road outside the Milton Arms pub. On the adjacent grass verge was bike with a front wicker basket, bent back on itself.

The cars involved are reported to be a yellow Peugeot 307 and a grey Audi A3 TDI. Nobody from the cars was injured. The Peugeot had a smashed windscreen.

Police have asked that anyone who saw the crash should call 101.

46 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

The whole bobble hat thing is drawn from the local news reporting of the death, note how a wicker basket is also mentioned. I think it underlines just how it could have been your daughter, or mine.

posted by Caroline Dodgson [62 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:03

16 Likes

A child died for crying out loud.

That either side of the helmet debate would use this tragedy to score points is disgusting.

Thoughts with family and friends of the young girl, especially hard to lose someone at this time of year.

posted by Velo_Alex [67 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:07

14 Likes

To 'oozaveard'
No it doesn't say she died of head injuries but it does say the Peugeot had a broken windscreen. Just my best guess at what might have happened. Who the f#*k do you think you are captain no-all.

Just saying IF she wasn't wearing a helmet and HAD been hit around the head then her chances of being injured are significantly increased. You don't need statistics to prove a helmet might help, common sense should prevail. Feel free to wear one or not.

Hope the poor girl rests in peace.

We're all entitled to a reasonable opinion!

posted by Guyz2010 [293 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:21

11 Likes

Velo_Alex wrote:
A child died for crying out loud.

That either side of the helmet debate would use this tragedy to score points is disgusting.

Thoughts with family and friends of the young girl, especially hard to lose someone at this time of year.

I fully agree.

This is not the time or place for a debate/argument over the use of helmets.

posted by wwfcb [74 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:21

10 Likes

Caroline Dodgson wrote:
The whole bobble hat thing is drawn from the local news reporting of the death, note how a wicker basket is also mentioned. I think it underlines just how it could have been your daughter, or mine.

This. If the mention - in what we should remember is a local newspaper, not a cycling journal - of a cyclist's bobble hat and basket at the site of an accident is intended to invite any inference on the part of the reader, it's to underline that the victim was an ordinary person riding their bike as a means of transport, not to invite a debate about helmets.

posted by Lord Fishface [24 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:22

13 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

I saw that comment about the bobble hat for what it was. A not so cryptic reference to the fact that the girls was somehow an irresponsible negligent cyclist.

yes, i'm sure you've previously noticed road.cc's staunchly pro-helmet stance on numerous occasions.

Plain Face

If you look, you'll see that oozaveered's post is a response to Guyz2100's comment that "a bobble hat is no helmet".

posted by Ush [440 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:29

15 Likes

wwfcb wrote:
Velo_Alex wrote:
A child died for crying out loud.

That either side of the helmet debate would use this tragedy to score points is disgusting.

Thoughts with family and friends of the young girl, especially hard to lose someone at this time of year.

I fully agree.

This is not the time or place for a debate/argument over the use of helmets.

Which is why the first mention of helmets by guyz2010 "a bobble hat is no helmet" is inappropriate.

posted by Ush [440 posts]
13th December 2013 - 13:30

13 Likes

I don't really see it as being inappropriate to be honest. Opinions and comments are allowed. I've expressed my sadness over the accident.

We're all entitled to a reasonable opinion!

posted by Guyz2010 [293 posts]
13th December 2013 - 14:12

13 Likes

Velo_Alex wrote:
A child died for crying out loud.

That either side of the helmet debate would use this tragedy to score points is disgusting.

Thoughts with family and friends of the young girl, especially hard to lose someone at this time of year.

This.

Thoughts with all who knew her. Sad

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
13th December 2013 - 14:13

11 Likes

As seen on many public forums threads about the death of a person often descend in to the gutter. There is a time and a place for debate.

posted by Legin [40 posts]
13th December 2013 - 14:38

11 Likes

There is no indication as yet to how Beth so tragically died. Until that information becomes public we cannot assume that it was through head injury insinuated by the noting of the hat circled with chalk. There are numerous scenarios to the cause of her fatal injuries and also to the damage to the vehicles.

Until the government wakes up and starts sorting out infrastructure and behaviour towards vulnerable road users by motorists the better. Be it better training, sentencing, whatever only then will our roads become safer.

Thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. RIP Beth

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1073 posts]
13th December 2013 - 15:13

11 Likes

RIP

At this time we know nothing, she may have ridden off the pavement and been hit by a car, that two cars are involved, maybe they were drag racing? Maybe she crashed because of the greasy roads, maybe she was on the receiving end of a punishment pass, did she have lights, was she wearing hi viz, did she have pedal reflectors, did she have a fit, was the driver on the phone, applying makeup, drinking, smoking. Maybe a helmet would have helped or maybe she died of internal injuries where it wouldn't.

All we can say with any reasonable certainty, she was hit by a car and is dead, we can't even say for certain the car is why she is dead.

Can we leave the debate about the hows and whys until we actually know them.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1468 posts]
13th December 2013 - 15:21

15 Likes

Guyz2010 wrote:
To 'oozaveard'
No it doesn't say she died of head injuries but it does say the Peugeot had a broken windscreen. Just my best guess at what might have happened. Who the f#*k do you think you are captain no-all.

Point one (what else but a head breaks a windscreen)

as it happens in 1977 I hit the front nearside and went through the windscreen of an oncoming right turning car. The windscreen was broken. I was on my back with my head on the passenger seat and my bike, still attached by the toe clips was on the front bonnet. I had a very bruised knee. No head injury at all. Heads are but one thing that might break windscreens.

Point two (a helmet offers some worthwhile protection)

Helmets offer protection in a range of between 40 and 100 Joules. British Standard (BS 6863) and American National Standards Institute ANSI 90.4 both specify impact protection at 50 Joules. To quantify what that is useful for, we can calculate the Joules in an impact with a basic physics equation, KE = mv2/2 ie mass times velocity squared over two.

That sort of protection is useful for this. Me at 80kg going 15mph (15mph is 6.7m/s.) So that's 80 x (6.7 squared) over 2. or 89.78 Joules. A helmet is good for that. If I were lighter by a few kilos then better still. Just remember the scale of that number.

Right lets add a car. Not a heavy one. Let's go for a nice little Smart Car at 730kg. Now re work that equation still at 15mph.

If that hits you the impact is at 16,384 joules or roughly 163 times more impact than your helmet will protect you against. If the Smart Car is going 30mph, it isn't just double because its exponential. Now the impact will be 65,539 Joules or 650 times more energy transfer more than the best brand new cycle helmet will protect your skull against.

That's just a smart car. Make it at the other end of the car spectrum, say a Range Rover at 2,230 Kg. Say that's doing 45mph and hits you from behind and you are doing 15mph. Impact speed is still 30. But now the energy transfer is 200,209 Joules. That's 2000 times more than the benefit of your helmet.

So your statement that it is just common sense that a helmet gives you a bit of protection that's worth having is just superstition. It's voo-doo physics.

Now why is this important? It is important because some legislators, and motoring organisations and others think that the solution or even a partial answer to preventing or mitigating cyclist deaths and serious injuries is to focus on helmet wearing, encouraging and sometimes mandating. And the problem with that is not just one of personal freedom ( I don't buy that argument anyway we don't accept it for seat belts etc) it's one of framing the possible solution. If the notion is abroad that the answer to KSI rates are that cyclists wear helmets, but won't or don't then that means that cyclists will appear to refusing to protect themselves against vehicle impacts when they could. But they can't.

The easiest, laziest, route of least resistance, for politicians looking to be seen to do something about KSIs amongst cyclists is to bat on about helmets as if helmets made a big difference. The beauty of this is that the cyclists themselves pay for this and they don't need to do much else and because a helmet is a visible symbol of protection. However, the basic physics of it is that helmet protection is out matched by vehicle impacts, not just by a little bit or in all but excessive speeds or by large vehicles. It's totally and utterly out matched as a meaningful protection by at least many hundreds of times and sometimes by many thousands of times and that goes for impacts even by small cars and even at lower speeds.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [791 posts]
13th December 2013 - 15:21

14 Likes

For gods sake will you two please give it a rest, no one is interested in it. A young girl has very sadly passed away and all we are getting is cheap shots from you both. Have a bit of respect please.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2892 posts]
13th December 2013 - 15:40

15 Likes

oozaveared wrote:

Point one (what else but a head breaks a windscreen)

as it happens in 1977 I hit the front nearside and went through the windscreen of an oncoming right turning car. The windscreen was broken. I was on my back with my head on the passenger seat and my bike, still attached by the toe clips was on the front bonnet. I had a very bruised knee. No head injury at all. Heads are but one thing that might break windscreens.

I can second that. Shortly after I passed my driving test a pedestrian ran out from behind a parked van. I was doing approx 10/15mph (moving off from lights) the individual hit the side of my car bounced off the wind screen and shattered it. They had NO head injury. Police forensics told me his wrist watch must have hit the top edge of the screen. I found out later that this individual was in the habit of doing this and then making a claim. Also a passing police foot patrol saw it all happen and said there was nothing that could have prevented the collision. Again a gross assumption that the damage has been caused by a head.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1073 posts]
13th December 2013 - 15:47

13 Likes

oozaveared wrote:

That sort of protection is useful for this. Me at 80kg going 15mph (15mph is 6.7m/s.) So that's 80 x (6.7 squared) over 2. or 89.78 Joules. A helmet is good for that. If I were lighter by a few kilos then better still. Just remember the scale of that number.

Doesn't 80 x (6.7 squared) over 2 make 1795.6J?

posted by sponican [71 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:05

9 Likes

another needless death, too young, what an absolute waste ... RIP

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:06

13 Likes

stumps wrote:
For gods sake will you two please give it a rest, no one is interested in it. A young girl has very sadly passed away and all we are getting is cheap shots from you both. Have a bit of respect please.

Stumpy. Thanks for your comment. I respect your sentiment. However, you may not be interested in whether the usual victim blaming questions are asked or inferred but I am. In addition I am responding to comments and to the newspaper report quoted, that was very much interested in what this poor girl was wearing on her head and implying that her death may partly have been her own fault.

I happen to think that it is that vile implication which is the offensive one and that is why I have commented on it.

We may be approaching the "have some respect" position but just from differing angles.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [791 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:08

10 Likes

Honestly just leave it out mate, God forbid any friends or relatives end up viewing any of this.

I'm sure all have questions but to live so vicariously in view of such a raw and recent tragedy could and quite obviously is causing offence.

No one wants to debate that, we just want to send out respect and condolence, leave the debate for another time and place.

Perhaps a forum post on the topic of helmets etc would be a more fitting place to bring this up.

That is all. Leave it out all of you, seriously.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:23

9 Likes

oozaveared wrote:

In addition I am responding to comments and to the newspaper report quoted, that was very much interested in what this poor girl was wearing on her head and implying that her death may partly have been her own fault.

Problem is you could say hat is symbolic, of the tragic loss, or symbolic of not wearing a helmet.

Outside of cyclists what would be the interpretation, what was the intention? I guess I am cynical and see it as a reference to no helmet, but I accept that it might not have been meant that way.

As said, leave it for now, hopefully the truth, or at least something resembling it, will come out.

What is the real cause for concern though is what lessons will be learnt, regardless of what is found out, what will change to stop it happening again. Sadly I fear the answer is nothing and in a few weeks, months even years, we will still be reading about another young person dying on the roads.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1468 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:32

11 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
You are damned right about victim blaming. "witnesses report a bobble hat lying in the road "
is code for

"... just so you know readers, it was her own fault because she wasn't wearing a helmet."

Paranoia?

Quote:
Agreed that this may seem an unseemly spat about helmets so quickly after this tragedy, but ....

It doesn't "seem". It is an unseemly and tasteless spat about helmets and there is nothing after the "but" that in anyway justifies it.

RIP, Elizabeth.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:39

6 Likes

Hi all,

I've just posted a forum topic in response to the comments on this story. Be good to have your views, but would prefer it if you posted them on the forum topic, which is here

http://road.cc/content/forum/101449-would-people-prefer-it-if-we-turned-...

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4169 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:45

8 Likes

mooleur wrote:
Honestly just leave it out mate, God forbid any friends or relatives end up viewing any of this.
[...]
That is all. Leave it out all of you, seriously.

Absolutely! Notwithstanding the tragedy of the loss of life, a "Dislike" button would show how tiresome some of these inappropriate comments are perceived to be.

posted by Dr_Lex [161 posts]
13th December 2013 - 18:57

9 Likes

Caroline Dodgson wrote:
The whole bobble hat thing is drawn from the local news reporting of the death, note how a wicker basket is also mentioned. I think it underlines just how it could have been your daughter, or mine.

This is exactly how I read it Caroline.

Cycling is a great activity with great participants, let's all show this girl and her family the respect they deserve at such a tragic time. Such a shame.

My only fear in life is that in the event of my death, my wife will sell my bikes for what she thinks we paid for them.

posted by Velo-Chris [18 posts]
13th December 2013 - 20:00

11 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

I saw that comment about the bobble hat for what it was. A not so cryptic reference to the fact that the girls was somehow an irresponsible negligent cyclist.

yes, i'm sure you've previously noticed road.cc's staunchly pro-helmet stance on numerous occasions.

Plain Face


I assume that road.cc doesn't have its own Cambridge correspondent. The Cambridge News, however does, and I assume that is where road.cc's report comes from, as that is precisely what the Cambridge News has to say on the subject.

The Cambridge News has a well-established reputation for rabid anti-cycling sentiment, so yes, I think their mention of the bobble hat was specifically aimed at drawing a link between the poor girl's fate and her lack of helmet.

So, if you are going to rail against anyone, rail against the Cambridge News.

posted by Paul M [330 posts]
13th December 2013 - 20:33

12 Likes

No comment Ousa. I've said my bit. Paragraphs of Yawn show little respect to a sadly dead girl. My comments were never vindictive over the actions of the young girl merely a comment.
As a matter of human respect I will make no further comments on this case.

We're all entitled to a reasonable opinion!

posted by Guyz2010 [293 posts]
13th December 2013 - 23:15

5 Likes

Another desperate waste of a young life. No doubt this will just be added to the statistics list for a disinterested public official to bang on about in the near future. 'Only' 20 dead this year, as opposed to 22 last year. Pats on backs for us all then.

Irrespective of cause the end result yet again is the vulnerable pay the ultimate cost whilst as ever the motorists walk away unscathed.

Sadly this will bring no new urgency to any radical laws in motoring law even if the motorists are subsequently found to have been at fault.

Sincere condolescences to those who knew and loved her.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [192 posts]
13th December 2013 - 23:34

2 Likes

Thank you Iron Man you sum it all up. Stay safe everyone.

We're all entitled to a reasonable opinion!

posted by Guyz2010 [293 posts]
13th December 2013 - 23:46

4 Likes

Guyz2010 wrote:
No comment Ousa. I've said my bit. Paragraphs of Yawn show little respect to a sadly dead girl. My comments were never vindictive over the actions of the young girl merely a comment.
As a matter of human respect I will make no further comments on this case.

Good and you should keep your vile comments to yourself in future.

posted by IanW1968 [213 posts]
14th December 2013 - 0:37

1 Like

All of these comments regarding the fact she wasn't wearing a helmet are irrelevant, keep your opinions to yourself as they're not needed. Beth was a lovely girl who I've known for a number of years, really think her family would like to read this kind of stuff on here? Be more considerate and less stuck up. Was hard loosing her, disgusting comments.

posted by Chl03 [1 posts]
29th September 2014 - 15:43

2 Likes