Driver says she didn't see cyclist she killed

Fatal collision happened moments after near-miss with another cyclist

by Simon_MacMichael   January 26, 2010  

road.cc news

A driver who killed a cyclist taking part in a time trial last May has claimed in court that she did not see the victim, and told police in the aftermath of the crash that “it was just one of those things.”

Katie Hart, aged 19, of Little Paxton, Cambridgshire, also told police that she had not seen Major Gareth Rhys-Evans, a serving officer with the Intelligence Corps who was taking part in the Icknield Road Club 25-mile time trial on the A1 near St Neots, until she felt the impact then saw the victim in her rear-view mirror.

According to the BBC News website, Hart also claimed that the cyclist “came out of nowhere.”

In a statement read out to Peterborough Crown Court, another cyclist, Clare Lee, related how Hart’s Ford Ka had passed close to her while overtaking shortly before the collision that killed Major Rhys-Evans.

Miss Lee said: “It passed so close to me that it took my breath away, about a foot away." She added that her “heart sank” when she reached the crash scene and realised that the same car was involved.

Another motorist, James Newport, who had overtaken Hart’s vehicle, said that she had apparently taken no evasive action to avoid hitting the cyclist. “I did not feel that she needed to take any emergency action,” Mr Newport said, “but needed to do something, ie slow down or pull out to overtake the cycle."

He added: "I saw the car had continued in a straight line and did not swerve at all and did not appear to be braking."

Hart, however, who was on her way to her boyfriend’s house, had no recollection of having passed Miss Lee, nor of having been overtaken by Mr Newport’s vehicle.

She has pleaded guilty to the charge of careless driving, but denies the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Major Rhys-Thomas, aged 37, who had started his army career with the Royal Artillery before transferring to the Intelligence Corps, was pronounced dead at the scene. He leaves a wife and two children.

The case continues.
 

15 user comments

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She was behind the cycle according to the witness - how could he "come out of nowhere"?

jobysp's picture

posted by jobysp [145 posts]
26th January 2010 - 15:08

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Well if the driver wasn't chatting on her cellphone this suggests her concentration was elsewhere. Distracted driving is an issue the US authorities are taking seriously just now.

So "It was just one of those things" that she mowed down a father of two. I'm curious how she feels about this now.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
26th January 2010 - 15:20

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deserves to be locked up, if this sort of incident "is just one of those things" then how many more will she do it to? Not a care or clue in the world, terrifying.

not all carbon is the same.

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posted by Jon Burrage [1076 posts]
26th January 2010 - 15:27

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A tragic case to read on the same day that the Government issued a response to state that there was no need for the 3 feet 2 pass rule in the UK because "cyclists are already protected by the current Highway Code."

Surely time for the Government to do a rethink?

posted by Tom Amos [201 posts]
26th January 2010 - 16:54

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A defendant comment amounting to "shit happens" helps no-one, but would prison really be a good idea?

I'd suggest a 5 year driving ban + retest + 100s of hours of community service wearing really hideous uniform.

How about a compulsory no.1 haircut every month? Like Britney Spears Devil

Not sure what form the CS should take but it should be some form of genuine hard work, not stuffing envelopes. Hedge maintenance, litter-picking etc.

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posted by Simon E [1778 posts]
26th January 2010 - 17:01

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What's wrong with a lifetime driving ban? Driving should be seen as a privilege, not a right. It is perfectly possible to live without a car.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
26th January 2010 - 17:56

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cat1commuter wrote:
What's wrong with a lifetime driving ban? Driving should be seen as a privilege, not a right. It is perfectly possible to live without a car.

Spot on.

Has the prosecution established whether or not she was sending a text message at the time of the killing?

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posted by neilwheel [130 posts]
26th January 2010 - 19:51

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A friend of mine was killed at a time trial in 1997 by a van coming onto the main carriage way from a slip road. Father of 3 killed due to bad bad driving. The driver kept their liberty and their driving license as he 'needed the van/license as it was his main means of making a living'. Words failed me at the time! I lost the love for the bike for a while following that incident.
I've been hit twice in 25 years of cycling and been lucky enough to get up, walk away and tell the tale. Others are not so lucky.
I often commute by bike to work and the amount of drivers observed on mobiles while driving beggars belief. If we can make it as socially unacceptable as say
drink driving then only at that point will it stop.......could take a while sadly.

JFP

posted by johnnymcg259 [4 posts]
26th January 2010 - 21:42

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Surely it should be death by dangerous driving? Not seeing one rider is hard to fathom but she passed at least two (a lot of open TT's have warning signs up as well). We don't know if she was on a mobile, she could have been doing her lipstick, fiddling with a CD or MP3 player or just not paying attention. To me it doesn't matter - she has killed someone through negligence - prison and life time driving ban.

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posted by Blackhound [434 posts]
26th January 2010 - 21:54

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Completely agree on the lifetime driving ban. If, as per johnnymcg259's post, you 'need' your license to drive for your job; then tough luck. Get another job. If a Doctor is incompetent at their job then they get struck off. If an Accountant is incompetent then they can't practice. If a 'professional' driver kills someone then that's okay.... Doesn't make sense.

Driving is a licensed privilege.

Bring me sunshine, and dry roads

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posted by MalcolmBinns [107 posts]
27th January 2010 - 11:11

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Words fail me ... Angry I simply cannot understand the way the "justice" system deals with these sorts of divers.
I agree that driving a car is a privilege, and if someone fails to maintain the standards required then that privilege should be withdrawn.
I also agree that CS would be a great idea. We all see litter and rubbish carelessly disposed of as we cycle around, and to put miscreants to good use would benefit everyone. Perhaps they should also help young people with road safety lessons!

posted by SimpleSimon [109 posts]
27th January 2010 - 15:20

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My heart goes out to the family - this is a truly tragic case.

Sadly, cycling in London, you see this kind of selfish, cocooned and oblivious driving attitude every single day. I've lost count of the number of drivers whose windows I've knocked on to tell them to get off their goddam mobile.

Saying cyclists are already protected enough by the Highway Code is the equivalent of saying "you're on your own".

How about raising the minimum driving age to 21? I know when I passed my test at 17 I was a frighteningly bad driver. It takes years of motoring to be able to anticipate what other road users might do - to properly observe the road ahead.

And finally, why are car manufacturers so obsessed with turning cars into entertainment centres. There are just too many gadgets, controls and distractions these days - not that that's any kind of an excuse for ploughing someone down, because you just weren't properly in command of a lethal weapon.

meluvsunshine

posted by pedalismo [58 posts]
27th January 2010 - 15:32

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thankfully it looks as though Ms Hart is looking at a prison sentence
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=479743

I know that 2-5 years doesn't sound like much for taking someones life but in 2006 a rider 30 secs up the road from me in a time trial was hit from behind by a 7.5 tonne lorry, he died in the ambulance on the way from the scene due to serious head injuries - I went to the inquest as I was the first rider on the scene, verdict - accidental. At least Ms Hart is being held accountable for her actions.

Being a member of a time trialling forum where a lot of members knew Gareth and were actually racing that morning & combined with my past experience this story has had a big effect on me, I can only offer my condolences to the family and hope this outcome goes a small way to helping them rebuild their lives.

(p.s. I see there have been a lot of discussion about mobile phones in this thread, there is no evidence to suggest that this was a factor in the case)

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posted by stuke [288 posts]
27th January 2010 - 23:08

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Let's hope that a long prison sentence for the driver- killer is just one of those things!

posted by Recumbenteer [138 posts]
16th May 2010 - 9:51

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Would she see my hand coming in front and slapping on the forehead?

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posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
16th May 2010 - 14:37

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