Cyclist died after colliding with bus in ‘tragically timed’ West Wittering incident

A 71-year-old cyclist suffered fatal head injuries after a ‘misjudged action’ saw him collide with a bus in West Wittering, an inquest has heard.

Robert Edmond, of Spinney Lane in Itchenor, Chichester, suffered a serious head injury in the incident in Cakeham Road on Friday, September 7, 2018.

Robert Edmond went out cycling most afternoons. Photo contributed by his family

Robert Edmond went out cycling most afternoons. Photo contributed by his family

He was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital and transferred to the neurological unit but his injuries were found to be ‘unsurvivable’ and he died in the early hours of September 8.

His wife Patricia said Mr Edmond, a retired chartered accountant, liked to keep fit and enjoyed using his rowing machine every morning, as well as sailing in Chichester Harbour.

In a statement read out at his inquest at Crawley Coroners Court on Tuesday, she said he would go cycling most afternoons in the quiet back roads of the Manhood Peninsula.

On Friday, September 7, she said the couple had been looking forward to having their six-year-old granddaughter to stay that evening and between 2.30pm and 3pm, Mr Edmond left the house for a bike ride.

The court heard that Mr Edmond had been cycling in a northern direction on the cycle path, which was also a footpath, on the eastern side of Cakeham Road.

PC Stephen Ashby, forensic collision investigator, said that just prior to the start of the 30mph zone, Mr Edmond left the cycle path, crossed the southbound lane and entered the northbound lane directly into the path of a single decker 53 bus.

He said: “CCTV footage shows three seconds elapses from the point he leaves the cycle path to impact.”

The bus, which was travelling at just over 30mph, swerved to the right but was unable to avoid contact with Mr Edmond’s bike, he said.

Jeremy Norris, the driver of the bus, said he had been ‘feeling anxious’ and was ‘struggling to sleep’ following the incident.

In a statement read out at the inquest, he said: “I have played the event over and over in my mind.

“I truly believe there was nothing I could have done.”

The court heard that Susanna Cornwell, who had been driving past with her husband and children, gave Mr Edmond emergency first aid at the scene and held his hand until the emergency services arrived.

Concluding his evidence, Mr Ashby said that either Mr Edmond did not look behind him, or he looked and failed to see the bus, or he did see the bus but failed to see the approach speed.

He added that it had been a sunny day and that, as Mr Edmond looked over his left shoulder, the sun would have been directly in his line of vision – however, it was noted that Mr Edmond was wearing sunglasses.

Assistant coroner Chris Wilkinson described it as ‘a misjudged action’ and said: “It appears it was a tragically timed incident.”

Mr Edmond’s family raised concerns about the cycle path at the inquest.

His son James said that some distance after the point where his father entered the road, the cycle path came to an abrupt stop – with ‘no signage’ and ‘nothing to suggest what you should do’.

Mr Wilkinson said: “It may have been that Robert was aware of the deficiencies of the cycle lane and decided to exit at a safer point.

“I don’t know what was going through his mind at that point.”

While he said he could see that the design of the path had the ‘potential’ to cause risk, he said there was not enough evidence for him to formally report it.

Mr Wilkinson said he was not sure whether it would have ‘made a difference at all’ if Mr Edmond had been wearing a helmet, but said: “I can only advocate in the interests of safety that, given a choice, people do wear one.”

He concluded an accidental death as a result of a road traffic accident.

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