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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Teenage Carlisle cyclist killed in crash could have been saved by path barrier - coroner

A coroner says a teenager who died in a crash could still be alive if there had been a barrier on a footpath.

Matthew Hamilton photo
Matthew Hamilton

David Roberts is now set to write to Cumbria County Council to ask them to look at the path following the death of Matthew Hamilton in Carlisle.

Matthew, 15, of Springfield Road, Harraby, lost his life after riding out of the footpath leading onto the Durranhill Industrial Estate and crashing into a car.

An inquest into the death of the Richard Rose Central Academy pupil heard how he slammed his brakes on but hurtled over the handlebars of his bike.

Investigations showed the driver, warehouse worker Robert Marriott, was driving his Renault Scenic “well within” the 30mph limit.

The inquest heard it would have been impossible for him to brake in time even if he had seen the young cyclist.

Matthew, known as Matt and described as a “happy-go-lucky lad”, died of his injuries at the city’s Cumberland Infirmary.

Mr Roberts, the North and West Cumbria Coroner, heard the evidence surrounding the tragedy, which happened on September 2 last year.

The inquest was told how Matthew had been with some other teenagers and he and another boy were riding ahead of the others on the footpath, which leads from Harraby Grove onto Brunel Way.

The path was between a metal fence which had gaps to look through but also had shrubs growing next to it.

Cyclists are not permitted by law to ride on the path but Mr Roberts added: “We all know people do that.”

The boy riding alongside Matthew told police they got to the edge of the footpath. He saw the car out of the corner of his eye and shouted a warning.

“He just got to the edge of the cut and he pulled his front brakes and he went over,” the boy said.

Mr Marriott, the driver, told the inquest he heard a “massive bang” as he passed the entrance.

“I thought someone had thrown something at the car,” said Mr Marriott.

Mr Roberts asked him if, before the bang, he had seen anything. “No,” replied Mr Marriott. “Nothing at all.”

“I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the lad lying in the road with the bike. I brought the car to a stop.”

He went to get help at the police station and one of the group with Matthew phoned an ambulance.

Police investigations found no mechanical faults or failures with the bike or car. The collision happened in daylight.

PC Richard Wiejak, a collision investigator, said “views into and from the Harraby Grove path can be restricted”.

The officer told the inquest: “In my opinion this collision is the result of the pedal cyclist failing to look correctly as he has emerged from the footpath onto Brunel Way, thus leaving himself insufficient time or distance to stop.”

Matthew’s dad, Derek Thompson, paid tribute to his son, saying: “He could make friends everywhere, he loved life.

“He loved his bikes and being out in the fresh air.” His mum Emma Hamilton was also present, as were other members of the family.

Mr Roberts said it was “a most tragic case” and recorded that Matthew died as the result of a road traffic collision. He added he was “concerned that at the end of this footpath there is no barrier of some sort”.

Mr Roberts said: “Had there been some barrier at the end it might have meant this young man would have to slow down and not emerge at such a speed that when he braked he was thrown from his bicycle.

“I shall write to Cumbria County Council to look at this soon and take such action as they think might be appropriate to address the issue.”

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