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“Simple mistake” cost cyclist his life when he swerved to avoid van, police officer tells inquest

But David Koryczan's fiancée says driver should have made space for him...

A police officer has told a coroner’s inquest that a “simple mistake” cost a cyclist his life when he swerved to avoid a van on a country road in the Cotswolds – but the victim’s fiancée says that the driver should have made space for him.

David Koryczan, aged 66 and from Turkdean in Gloucestershire, sustained a fatal spinal cord injury after he braked and swerved into a gravel verge to avoid the approaching van on 9 May this year, reports Gloucestershire Live.

Police collision investigator PC Simon Edwards told the inquest: “My view is that Mr Koryczan reacted to a hazard ahead while negotiating the downhill slope.

“The van driver says he came across Mr Koryczan when he was already in the verge. It is possible Mr Koryczan reacted to another hazard, not the van, but the most likely danger in my opinion would have been the van.”

He said that there was no CCTV or dashcam footage to help establish what had happened, and the van driver told police that he had not seen Mr Koryczan until after he came off his bike.

“This would appear to be a single, simple mistake – no reflection on the cyclist’s experience or capability,” PC Edwards added.

“Drivers do have an obligation to be careful for cyclists. This van would have taken up considerable space in the road. Their coming together would not have given David a great deal of time to react.”

At the time of his death, Mr Koryczan had been awaiting a heart bypass operation, which had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His fiancée Jan Barley, who had been his partner for 18 years, told the inquest that she regularly went on rides with him, and that he was a “very proficient bike rider.”

“He had ridden that particular road where it happened hundreds and hundreds of times and he never rode near the verge,” she said. “He was always a good distance from the verge because he was concerned about the gravel.”

Describing Mr Koryczan as “the love of my life,” she added: “I still cannot get it straight in my head that he had to be the one who took evasive action when he was the one who was vulnerable on the road. The van should have taken action to avoid him.

Mr Koryczan belonged to Cheltenham & County Cycling Club whose chairman, Martin Cain, described him following his death as “an active member and enthusiastic volunteer with the club.”

Gloucestershire assistant coroner Roland Wooderson recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

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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