Essex rider's death simply a "tragic accident"

Coroner absolves van driver of any blame in club man's death

by Mark Appleton   March 11, 2011  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight,

A coroner in Essex has ruled that the death of a cyclist last summer was a tragic accident.

Brian Ward, 70, a member of the Hainault Roads Club was in collision with a Mercedes Sprinter van on a blind bend near Epping on June 17 and died later the same day in hospital.

Van driver Raymond Thackeray told the inquest that he saw Mr Ward on his side of the road a split-second before the impact.

“It was a moment,” he said. “I’d just turned right into Houblons Hill and was doing about five miles an hour and was on my side of the road.

“A first cyclist went past and missed me by about a foot and then a second went past and right across my side of the road and smashed into the front of my van.”

Mr Thackeray, who said he has been tormented by the death of Mr Ward, also said that it appeared to him  that the riders may have been racing at the time of accident, but this notion was dismissed by Mr Ward’s widow, Barbara.

She said: “Don’t try to say they were racing. I did cycle and you can be coming down a hill at 25 mph. It was an accident.”

A witness to the incident, Suzanne Brown, who was behind the Mercedes van, said: “I would describe it as a blind bend. I had my young son in the car and was driving incredibly slowly and I just looked up and heard and saw the impact instantaneously.”

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “Mr Ward died as a result of an accident. It was a tragic accident and we will never quite know why he was on the wrong side of the road as he came down the hill and around the bend and it is very clear that there is nothing Mr Thackeray could have done.”

General secretary, of the Hainault Roads Club Bill Godfrey said: “Brian was always a pleasure to be with and to cycle along with and it is an irony that the his cycling hobby, of which he was so fond, was the cause of his premature and tragic death.”

8 user comments

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I love this bit, the way the slow driver was obviously paying full attention as she drove along... "A witness to the incident, Suzanne Brown, who was behind the Mercedes van, said: “I would describe it as a blind bend. I had my young son in the car and was driving incredibly slowly and I just looked up and heard and saw the impact instantaneously.”"
Was she paying more attention to her child? Angry

posted by crunch61 [31 posts]
11th March 2011 - 12:36


If, as the report suggests, the rider was on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend, then this was the cause of the accident.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
11th March 2011 - 13:08


Yeah - it may almost be heresy to mention it in current company - but sometimes the cyclist is in the wrong.

You have to feel for the van driver here (much as I usually curse them) - bet he's spent ages wondering if he could have done something to avoid it.

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
11th March 2011 - 14:13


Crunch61 Why would you say that? The van driver said he was going at about 5 miles an hour so of course the car behind him was going incredibly slowly. The answer to your question is probably no.

posted by mrsminx411 [86 posts]
11th March 2011 - 14:26


I opened this article with my usual opinions running through my mind ("#####g van drivers...." you know the drill) but in this case I really feel for the guy.

I've been on group/club rides where colleagues have become similarly over-enthusiastic and had very near misses whilst racing each other. This sort of accident really hammers home the importance of road awareness and respect from and for ALL road users.

posted by dlp [51 posts]
11th March 2011 - 15:09


I was reading this case on that paper's site about a week back. The wording in a previous article made it read as if the driver had pulled out to turn right and into the path of the cyclists. There was no mention of a blind bend, but that would explain a little.

It does make me wonder.There is a similar road I ride to work on, and there are two polished manhole covers on my side of the road. I have to gingerly take the bend on the white line. I take it the Police investigation ruled out such a problem contributing (that would possibly take out a newbie imo)?

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
13th March 2011 - 11:51


To other responders: I think crunch61's key point was: "I just looked up". Looked up from what ? You should have been looking ahead all the time !!

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
13th March 2011 - 21:16


Or possibly not all the time if you want to know what's happening in the proximity of the vehicle, not just straight ahead.

posted by hoski [78 posts]
14th March 2011 - 16:24

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