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Rider was likely to have been listening to music on headphones

A cyclist who was killed by a train was likely to have been listening to headphones and did not hear two walkers trying to warn him of the danger, an inquest has heard.

Phil Dawn, 34, was struck by a train in May last year on the Kings Mill level crossing, near Mansfield.

Giving evidence at Nottingham Coroner's Court this week, Thomas Butler said he and Grant Pinhold tried to attract Mr Dawn's attention after they saw him go on to the tracks. 

He said he heard the train's horn sound twice.

According to This Is Nottingham, Mr Butler said: "I ran out onto the track shouting at him 'there's a train, there's a train'. I've gone to grab him when Grant grabbed me and pulled me back. That's when the train went past us.

"We stood there for ten seconds. I froze and asked Grant if that had just happened. That's when Grant noticed the bike further down the track."

He was found 100 metres away and died of multiple injuries.

The pair had earlier seen Mr Dawn riding past, and Mr Butler said he thought he had been wearing headphones, but wasn't sure as he was wearing a hood.

He said: "When he rode past us he put his hood down, said 'cheers' and gave me a thumbs-up, and then put his hood back up and carried on. I could hear music as he rode past.

"All of a sudden he stopped at the gate.

"I asked Grant what was up ahead and he said a rail crossing. As he pulled the gate open I realised I could hear the train coming. We started running and Phil was already cycling out onto the crossing.

"He didn't look; he just had his head straight, looking towards the path."

Mr Dawn's earphones were found connected to his mobile phone but were dangling loose of his ears following the collision, meaning the coroner could not be certain he had been listening to them at the point of impact.

Jane Gillespie, the assistant deputy coroner for Nottinghamshire, recorded a verdict of accidental death. She said: "I conclude for reasons we will never know with absolute certainty, Mr Dawn rode on to the track with no regard for his safety.

"I find in balance that Mr Dawn didn’t hear the shouts or the horn. Despite the sounding of the horn, he didn’t react, flinch, or divert from the path, let along look at the direction of the train.

"Sadly I’m driven to the view that the single most important aspect in this case was the behaviour of Mr Dawn himself."

Network Rail  said a number of changes had been made to the crossing since Mr Dawn’s death, including a redesigned approach to the crossing, vegetation management, and a temporary reduction in speed.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "A very early feasibility study was completed at this site, as with many others in the East Midlands, to establish if it is physically possible to construct a bridge at this site."

Following Mr Dawn's death, Network Rail released a TV advert warning of the dangers of level crossings.

The 30-second spot shows a family out on a bike ride in the countryside playing a game of ‘I spy…’ with the daughter realising – too late, apparently – that the “something beginning with T” is the railway track she is standing on as a train approaches.

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.