The inquest into the death of 15-year-old Callum Wilkinson has ruled that his failure to check before re-entering the carriageway combined with a lorry driver’s assumptions about his direction of travel to cause the fatal collision.
The Retford Times reports that Wilkinson was hit by an 18-tonne lorry driven by Sally Howson while cycling to school along London Road in Retford on June 28 last year. Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Assistant Deputy Coroner of Nottinghamshire, Maria Mulrennan, explained:
“The collision appears to have been a tragic combination of Miss Howson’s assumption as to Callum’s direction of travel, together with an apparent failure on Callum’s part to check before re-entering the carriageway onto South Street.
“I note that Callum usually cycled whilst listening to music. And it would appear from the evidence that he was doing so at the time of the collision. Whether he was distracted or unaware of the approach of Miss Howson’s vehicle is unclear.”
Howson – who was acquitted of causing Callum’s death by careless driving in July – described how she had seen Wilkinson in the cycle lane as she approached the junction with South Street and that she had then seen him mount the pavement.
Wilkinson’s aunt, Tracey Stoddard, with whom he was living at the time, explained that he would often do this in anticipation of the busy entrance to the Esso garage ahead and because the cycle lane ends just after the South Street junction. She said he had nearly been knocked off when passing the garage on a number of occasions.
Howson mistakenly assumed that Wilkinson was turning left because of how he had angled his bike in that direction, but it seems he was merely aiming for a drop-down kerb to cross South Street and was continuing straight on. Howson had lost sight of him at this point and then the collision happened. Questioned as to why she didn’t check where he was, Howson explained that the Mercedes lorry she was driving had a number of blind spots
Wilkinson’s friends and former teachers at Elizabethan Academy have launched the CAL (Cycle Awareness Logic) campaign to promote cycling safety in his memory. It has received support from local councillor, Ian Campbell, who himself has successfully lobbied for cycle lanes and drop-down kerbs at the nearby Hallcroft roundabout.
"I was honoured to be asked to help Callum's school friends start a campaign to remember him by helping others through cycling safety. It's all well and good a council or a politician starting a campaign, but a campaign run by young people for young people has a much greater impact.
"It comes at a time that the county council has made some significant changes to the routes into the school, notably Hallcroft roundabout. These changes alone aren't enough and that's why the campaign is needed.”