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Sherrif considers decision in Jason MacIntyre Fatal Accident Inquiry

Widow grateful to have heard full facts of fateful day

A Fatal Accident Inquiry in Fort William into the death of Scottish cyclist Jason MacIntryre concluded today, with the champion cyclist’s widow Caroline saying that she was glad to have heard a full account of the events of the day her husband was killed.

Sherrif Douglas Hall will deliver his determination – similar to the verdict in a Coroner’s Inquest in England and Wales – at a later date.

Mrs MacIntyre, who lives in Fort William, was quoted on the STV website as saying: "It's been very tough. But I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to hear everything that happened on that day.

Referring to her and Mr MacIntyre’s 11-year-old twin daughters, she added: "I think it's important for Chloe and Morgan, when they're older, to know the full facts of what happened to their dad."

Mrs MacIntyre continued: "I don't want to speculate on what the sherrif might say but I am happy to wait for his decision. I have had all the answers I expected to get. I knew I would never find out everything but I am thankful that things have been explained in as much detail as they have."

Yesterday, on the opening day of the Inquiry, Mrs MacIntyre had described how she had waved her husband off on his 40-mile training ride on roads familiar to him.

"It was 9:55am when I last saw him,” she said. “He was holding on to the roof of the car as he was clipping his feet into the pedals. I asked how long he was going to be and he said… probably about three hours."

"It was a nice day, a bit cold, but it was very clear and dry,” continued Mrs MacIntyre. “He carried a presence on the road, especially as he is tall at 6ft 2in," she added.

When asked what she wanted to get out of the Inquiry, Mrs MacIntyre responded: "There does not seem to be any reason as to why this possibly could have happened.

"I have not heard enough evidence to state what would cause this to happen. There do not seem to be enough answers,” she said.

"He has cycled that road thousands of times. I know I won't get all the answers, but there is no reason why this could happen in the first place. Hopefully, I can find out those answers."

The cyclist, who was in training to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and held the UK 25-mile time trial title at the time of his death, was killed near Fort William in January 2008 by a pick-up truck driven by Highland Council employee,

Robert McTaggart, who was fined £500 and banned from driving for six months. Mr McTaggart said that he had no wish to renew his licence, and has not driven since, saying: “I have never reapplied for my licence and don't intend to drive again. I simply can't explain how it happened. I did not see him."

Solicitor Anna Watt, representing the council, told the Inquiry that the victim, who had been wearing a blue Scotland vest over a winter training jacket, could have taken the reasonable precaution of wearing clothing that would have made him more visible to other road users, and that “no reasonable precautions could have been taken by Highland Council which could have resulted in this accident being prevented." She also said: "This was a tragic accident, caused by human error, with devastating consequences."

Solicitor Andrew Henderson, speaking on behalf of Mr MacIntyre’s wife and children, countered the argument that the dark clothing the cyclist had been wearing contributed to the accident.

"It's entirely clear that Mr MacIntyre was there to be seen,” he insisted. “I say that because Mr MacIntyre was seen by two witnesses prior to the collision. Mr MacTaggart ought to have seen Mr MacIntyre."

Mr Henderson continued: "In relation to Mr MacIntyre's death, there is no evidence that any different clothing on his part would have made any difference."

He also asked the Sherrif to give consideration to installing a traffic island at the junction where the fatal accident took place to improve safety there in the future.

Solicitor Stephen Macleod, representing the cyclist’s father, David MacIntyre, told the Inquiry that he "associated entirely" with Mr Henderson’s observations, saying that the deceased "habitually displayed a high degree of road traffic awareness when cycling".

However, Donald MacKenzie, speaking for Mr McTaggart, returned to the issue of visibility, citing road traffic accident investigator Donald MacAskill who had maintained that high-visibility "force visibility" on other road users.

Fiscal Alison Wylie, a law officer of the Crown whose duties include whether or not to proceed with an FAI, said that the evidence showed that Mr MacIntyre’s death had been caused by "major and irremedial head injuries,” and that a helmet would not have prevented those.

She also stated that: "This inquiry has about been fact-finding, not fault-finding."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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cat1commuter | 14 years ago

It isn't usually eyesight which is at fault. Where a driver is waiting for a gap in the traffic, their brain may only notice the cars. It is the same problem which is more frequently suffered by motorcyclists, since they travel much faster. This is illustrated by these awareness tests. I totally failed the original when I took it.

OldRidgeback | 14 years ago

Maybe all of us drivers need to have regular and compulsory eye tests.

dlp replied to OldRidgeback | 14 years ago
OldRidgeback wrote:

Maybe all of us drivers need to have regular and compulsory eye tests.

I was recently knocked off by an 82 year old man who was not wearing glasses - he has subsequently failed an eye test.

I also think regular and compulsory 'lite' driving tests (say every 5 or 10 years) would be a good idea - if these were failed it would lead to a series of (paid for) lessons and a full re-test.

Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

Simon E, I put the exact same point on a post on the thisisbristol forum a while back, I was shouted down by drivers saying I was being ridiculous. The thing is, there are so many accidents involving vehicle on vehicle scenarios that surely hi viz cars need to be considered.

Simon E | 14 years ago

So if cyclists need hi-viz, as the solicitors for the council and McTaggart seem to be suggesting, should all those similarly invisible blue cars on the road be painted with dayglo yellow markers front, back and sides?

I hope Jason's family get some degree of closure after all this.

not the chef | 14 years ago

There was a picture of Caroline carrying the bike into the inquiry - looked like a standard road bike.

Simon_MacMichael | 14 years ago

I saw an article on Scotsman website earlier this week that said it was a 40 mile ride on a winter training bike, just to get some miles in his legs... article seems to have disappeared now, however

cat1commuter | 14 years ago

I wonder if Jason was riding a time trial machine. If he was on the extensions he might not have had time to reach his brakes before hitting the back of the van when it suddenly turned across his path.

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