Blind spot caused cyclist's death
A CYCLIST crushed to death by a lorry as she pulled away from a junction was most likely in the driver s blind spot, an inquest heard on Tuesday. A police investigator said the lorry had two blind spots – one caused by the design of the vehicle, the other
A CYCLIST crushed to death by a lorry as she pulled away from a junction was most likely in the driver's blind spot, an inquest heard on Tuesday.
A police investigator said the lorry had two blind spots - one caused by the design of the vehicle, the other by a mirror being obscured by a small curtain.
The "in-built" blind spot meant the driver could not see between the vehicle and four feet in front of it. The curtain obscured the view below the passenger door.
Melanie Burton, 33, a lab technician from St Ives, was cycling to work at Wyton on September 14 last year when she cycled past the lorry and its trailer to wait at the traffic lights at Hill Rise, St Ives.
The lorry was waiting to turn left on to the A1123 towards St Ives. As they both pulled forward, witnesses said the cyclist was seen to wobble and then fall under the lorry.
Accident investigator Pc Francis Crawford told the hearing that the lorry's blind spots had been investigated "and yes, you could lose a pedal cycle and a cyclist".
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Pc Crawford said that Miss Burton had ridden her bike down the side of the lorry and became "out of sight". He described the spot where Miss Burton waited at the lights as "a poorly chosen position".
He added that she may have been in one of the two blind spots and, because she was in front of its indicators, she would not have known which way the driver was intending to turn.
After the incident, police officers entering the cab of the lorry found the left-hand indicator flashed when the engine was turned back on.
Pc Crawford told the Huntingdon inquest: "As the lorry turned left, she would have found herself in a restricted gap. Because the bicycle was in a high gear - 17 out of 21 - the cyclist would have had to almost stand on the pedals to move out quickly and that could have induced the wobble."
The inquest also heard that Miss Burton fell and seemed to disappear under the lorry. Its wheels ran over her and the trailer then ran over her and her bike.
It was only at that point, when he felt the trailer bump, that the lorry driver realised something was wrong, stopped and ran out to try to help.
Miss Burton was declared dead at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, having died of severe injuries to her head and chest.
Pc Crawford said that no defects were found on the bicycle or lorry. He said the lorry driver, Anthony Griffin, from Newcastle, had spent the night in his Scania lorry and slept on the A14.
He set off at 6.40am and delivered his load of bricks to the Burleigh Road Estate at about 8am. At 8.10am, Miss Burton had left her home in Arran Way, St Ives. She was listening to an iPod and wearing slip-on sandals.
She had been overtaken by the lorry before they both stopped beside each other at the lights.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner David Morris expressed his sympathy for Melanie's family. Her father Chas and her partner Malcolm Plant were at the inquest.
Mr Morris also offered sympathy to Mr Griffin, the lorry driver, who is facing criminal charges of driving without due care and attention. Mr Morris suggested the Crown Prosecution Service would now look more carefully at the case.
"I have seen more merit in due care actions than there is in this case," he said.
At the end of the hearing, Mr Griffin offered his hand to Miss Burton's father and partner, who took it and allowed him to express his distress at what had happened.