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Fatal accident highlights dangerous state of roads

An Army officer was last week killed while cycling home when he was hit by a lorry after apparently swerving to avoid a massive pothole, described afterwards as “more like a trench.”

The incident, which took place near Tidworth, Salisbury Plain, highlights the state of disrepair of Britain’s roads, not helped by the worst winter in decades, which has left councils struggling to keep up with repairs.

It is thought that 29-year-old Captain Jonathan Allen, who had served in Afghanistan, did not see the 15-foot long pothole until the last moment and as he tried to avoid it, he was struck by the passing lorry, leaving the Royal Fusiliers officer with fatal head injuries.

Andrew Connolly, who sits on Tidworth Town Council, told the Daily Telegraph: "This hole was more like a trench than a pothole.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this crater was a direct causal factor behind this young man's tragic death.

He continued: "The accident happened in the evening, when it was pitch black and will have been filled with water. He either ploughed into it without seeing it and then fell in front of the lorry or swerved at the last minute to avoid it. Either way, the pothole was undoubtedly to blame.

"It's a real problem around here and the state of some of the roads are shocking," Councillor Connolly added.

A statement from Captain Allen’s regiment said: "Jon was an energetic and utterly professional Officer with a bright future ahead of him. His death has come as a very great shock to us all and we mourn his early passing.

"We have lost a very dear colleague and friend and the thoughts and prayers of the Regiment go out to his family and girlfriend at this very difficult time."

The Telegraph reported PC David Cooper, from Wiltshire Police's serious collision investigation team, as saying: "We were alerted to an accident in which a cyclist was killed after being hit by a heavy goods vehicle.

"The collision occurred in a stretch of road where there is a pothole, although it is too soon to say whether this was to blame.”

PC Cooper continued: "We are not ruling it out as the cause and our investigation is continuing. The findings will be sent on to the coroner".

The newspaper added that a spokesman for Wiltshire County Council had said: "We are sorry to hear about this tragic accident and our thoughts are with family and friends at this difficult time.

"The police are investigating the recent fatal road traffic collision.

"Any recommendations made by the coroner at a subsequent inquest concerning the highway will of course be given serious consideration by Wiltshire Council.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time," the statement concluded.

An inquest into his Captain Allen’s death opened last Friday and has been adjourned until to an unspecified date.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.