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Kenji Hirasawa hugged the driver of the lorry that killed Deep Lee at the inquest into her death

The boyfriend of a cyclist killed at Kings Cross two years ago by a lorry has contacted road.cc to speak of his feelings following the inquest into her death.

Kenji Hirasawa attended Poplar Coroner’s Court, where he embraced the lorry driver who killed his girlfriend Min Joo Lee, known as Deep.

He said he had not however forgiven Terence Gibbs.

He said: “I can imagine how [the witnesses] suffer from the nightmare since they saw the accident. I told them 'Thank you for coming to the inquest today. And I want to say sorry instead of Deep because the accident brought you a difficult life.'

“It was the first time I saw the driver at the inquest. I kept wondering what kind of man killed my lovely Deep. And why he does not contact us to apologize. However I kind of understood him.

“I asked him if there were any words to Deep's family and me. And he told us "I am so sorry" and he told that he wants Deep alive again though it can't happen.

“I told him 'I should not forgive you. But I hope you can have a nice life later.'”

Deep, aged 24, died as a result of serious head injuries sustained at the junction of Pentonville Way and Gray’s Inn Road on 3 December 2011.

Gibbs, who had been driving lorries for several decades, told the inquest that the road layout was “outdated.”

He said: “It hurts believe me. I can remember what happened like yesterday. I am so sorry this has happened. I wish only for a miracle to bring the life of that lady back.

“I’ve done that route hundreds of times and I still do it now. You’ve got to make [the Gray’s Inn Road slip road] into one lane. There’s no cycle lanes – there’s nothing down there for cyclists. It’s winding me up.”

Mr Hirasawa warned that similar tragedies would occur unless the safety of cyclists was made a priority.

He said: “Transport for London is encouraging people to cycle more – but the roads are not safe enough. The environment is not safe enough. The same accidents are going to happen. I don’t think TfL are doing enough to make things better.”

Mr Hirasawa went on to tell us about his memories of Deep, and his decision to speak to the lorry driver who killed her.

He said: “Deep was the most kind and generous, strong woman in my life. She had been studying mens’ fashion at Central Saint Martins.

“I wanted to be like her. My words 'I should not forgive you. But I hope you can have a nice life later"' was not only my honest feeling, but I also considered Deep's feelings and personality at that time.

“She was truly kind and generous. I did not want to only blame him. Because Deep would not do it.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

5 comments

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nod [65 posts] 2 years ago
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It's always heartbreaking to hear that someone has died just trying to get around town. Here's hoping that the victim's boyfriend and family have a happy life too.

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A V Lowe [568 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't know if Terence Gibbs is likely to read this, but it will be as much the drivers of the trucks who have been through this dreadful experience, who press for the better ways to work with trucks and cycles on the road, as it will be the relatives of the victims and the cycling community.

On 9th December I was at a Construction Logistics & Cycle Safety seminar in City Hall. One of those on the panel, operated trucks from the 2012 Olympics site - Brian Dorling worked for his operation, and he had to break the news to people working at the site. Outside was a 26T tipper truck with a low down driving position and full height glazed doors on the nearside, several have now been supplied to one major contractor for use in London. Because these have a 'special' cab they cost about 20% more than the currently 'accepted' macho-man 'tonka-trucks'. However the meeting reported that most drivers were pleased to get the improved ability to see what was next to their trucks, and this also addressed perhaps the major source of injury to truck drivers - injuries sustained when climbing up or jumping down from those high cabs. We might even see low cabs being specified because the truck owners need to reduce injury claims from their drivers!

But to be less frivolous, in religious circles it is often noted that the greatest evangelists come from the ranks of the converted - starting perhaps with St Paul. It will be tearful and tough but perhaps through the testimony and pressure of those at the wheel in those fatal crashes we might get the greatest results. I really hope that Chris Boardman's appearance before the Transport Select Committee is not a solo performance - perhaps Mr Gibbs, or once of the other drivers carrying the burden of being a party to the loss of a life, through whatever combination of circumstances, will be able to describe the human perspective from the other side of the coin.

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Velo-Chris [17 posts] 2 years ago
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A past neighbour of mine was driving a lorry which collided with a cyclist resulting in the injured man requiring a wheel chair for life.

My neighbour was a great guy, always friendly, the kind of person you hope to be fortunate to live next to. Following the accident he became dependent on alcohol to block memories of what had happened. A few years later he had to move out of his marital home when he tried to torch it for no reason, this guy dwelled and punished himself to the point he completely lost the plot.

Sadly there are dangers in our sport and accidents like this will continue to happen regardless of any safety measures that are taken.

I hope Terrance finds a way to put what happened behind him, from what I have read on this he isn't to blame and shouldn't blame himself.

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Ush [591 posts] 2 years ago
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Velo-Chris wrote:

A past neighbour of mine was driving a lorry which collided with a cyclist resulting in the injured man requiring a wheel chair for life.

Describing it in the passive like that irritates me.

Velo-Chris wrote:

Sadly there are dangers in our sport

This also irritates me. For many people cycling is no more a sport than is walking.

Velo-Chris wrote:

and accidents like this will continue to happen regardless of any safety measures that are taken.

This is obviously and trivially untrue.

Velo-Chris wrote:

I hope Terrance finds a way to put what happened behind him, from what I have read on this he isn't to blame and shouldn't blame himself.

Given the season that's in it and the tragedy of this story I'll refrain from expressing what I think of you after reading the above.

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Velo-Chris [17 posts] 2 years ago
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Firstly, apologise for irritating you, wasn't intended.

Velo-Chris wrote:

and accidents like this will continue to happen regardless of any safety measures that are taken.

Ush wrote:

This is obviously and trivially untrue.

Accidents are a part of every day life Ush, granted I should have worded that point better (a lot better on reflection) as certain accidents can be avoided.

The point that I obviously failed to make as you haven't referred to it whilst dissecting my entire post is that Terence Gibbs has to live the rest of his life with this playing on his mind. I hope he is forgiven and more importantly, manages to cope with the memory, as it's unlikely he went to work that day planning this.