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Essex rider's death simply a "tragic accident"

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

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.”

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