Cyclist killed when he toppled under wheel of trailer, inquest hears

An experienced cyclist was killed when he toppled beneath the wheel of an 18-tonne trailer on a narrow country lane, an inquest heard.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 10:18 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 11:20 am
Bank executive Cian Burke had been preparing for the London to Brighton bike ride when the tragedy happened
Bank executive Cian Burke had been preparing for the London to Brighton bike ride when the tragedy happened

Bank executive Cian David Burke, 52, died of multiple injuries in the tragedy near Fletching on May 19 last year.

He had set out that afternoon on a bike ride in East Sussex together with his son, student Thomas Burke, and his friend, student Louis Allen.

Mr Burke, of London Road, Cuckfield, was a keen long-distance cyclist and the ride was in preparation for the forthcoming London to Brighton bike ride, which he had completed several times before.

The trio were riding in single file in Daleham Lane, Splayne’s Green, at about 6.30pm when they encountered a tractor pulling a trailer uphill in the opposite direction.

The tractor slowed right down and pulled in as far as possible onto the narrow verge on the side of the lane.

Mr Burke was in the lead, his son told the inquest in a written statement, and had slowed to riding at walking pace. He had gone past the tractor but suddenly fell to his right and went under the front offside wheel of the trailer.

His feet were still in the cleats connecting him to the pedals, which he was wearing for the first time.

Tractor driver Ben Anderson, of Southwick Close, East Grinstead, told the inquest he was towing cut grass in the trailer. He saw the first cyclist approach and pulled over as far as he could to his left. He did not come to a complete halt but was driving “very slowly”.

Julian Taylor, in a collision investigation report read at the inquest in Eastbourne, said Mr Burke might unexpectedly have been brought to a halt when the wheels of his bike entered soft earth at the nearside edge of the lane, causing him to lose his balance and fall beneath the wheel.

The victim had also been using the new cleats - which he had bought earlier that day - which may have required more pressure to release than he was used to.

In recording a conclusion that Mr Burke died as a result of a Road Traffic Collision, East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze said: “No-one is to blame.”

He said: “This is one of those absolutely tragic cases where a number of circumstances came together at the same time to contribute to it.”