A woman from Devon who was cycling around the world with her husband has been killed in Bolivia after being struck from behind by a 4x4 vehicle on Saturday afternoon.
According to local police, Sharon Bridgman was killed instantly when she was struck from behind by a Toyota Land Cruiser after she veered suddenly to the left and into the vehicle’s path, reports the Daily Express.
Mrs Bridgman and her husband Tim, who was riding behind her at the time, set out on their journey, which aimed to raise funds for disaster relief charity Shelter Box, in June 2012.
Marcelo Tejerina, the local police chief, said: “Mrs Bridgman died just after 4.30pm local time on Saturday after being hit by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by a Bolivian man on a dirt track near Villamar, around 125 miles south of Uyuni. She was killed instantly.
“Her husband who was cycling around 200 metres behind was unhurt.
“The driver stopped and called police. He has now been arrested and his vehicle impounded which is standard practice after a fatal road accident and he is in custody awaiting a court appearance scheduled to take place later today.
“Both the driver and the tourist were travelling in the same direction from Villamar to Uyuni and were about 125 miles from the Chilean border.
“Mrs Bridgman appears to have swerved to the left for reasons that are unclear and taken the driver by surprise.”
The couple, from Zeal Monachorum in Devon, are members of Okehampton Cycling Club.
Its chairman, Robert Szembek, said: “I only found out about the tragedy yesterday and am still in a state of shock.
“Everyone was following an internet blog they were writing and they appeared to be having a great time and making lots of new friends.
“They’d already done what I would describe as some of the more dangerous countries on their route through Africa without any real problems.
“Tim had his bike stolen at one point and had to have a replacement flown out but that was the worst thing that had happened.
“My heart goes out to him. I haven’t been able to talk to him but it goes without saying that he must be suffering immensely.”
A friend of the couple’s added: “They’d been cycling virtually non-stop since June 2012 but were going to break their journey in early July to come back to Britain for a friend’s wedding.
“I don’t know what he’ll do now. All we’ve been told is that Sharon has been killed but we don’t really know any more details than that.”
The pair began their trip in Norway in June 2012 and rode almost 16,000 miles through 23 countries in Europe and Africa, before flying to Argentina to ride 19,000 miles through the Americas to Alaska.
The Daily Express says that Mrs Bridgman had been forced to stop doing impact sports several years ago because of serious problems with her back, with treatment including spinal injections to help cope with her pain.
Before the couple embarked on their round-the-world trip, her husband said: “Standing for a long period of time is still a problem but cycling seems to be the one thing that is okay.
“With determination and incredible support from family and friends over the years it has become manageable enough to do this trip.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the death of a British national in Bolivia on April 26.
“We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”
The journey has been recorded on a blog, with most of the entries written by Mrs Bridgman.
At the time of writing, the couple’s page on the fundraising website Just Giving has raised £1,161.75 of their £10,000 target.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.