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Army officer killed on bike as he swerved to avoid pothole

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.
 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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