A London cyclist who was crushed under a tipper truck fell as a result of mud on the road, an inquest has heard.
The Newham Recorder reports that on February 9, 2017, 32-year-old Ben Wales was riding his regular route to work when his mountain bike slipped on mud while travelling west on North Woolwich Road towards Knights Road.
He fell about two metres in front of a stationary lorry, which was waiting to turn out of the junction.
The driver, Jose Rodrigues – who was on a hands-free phone call at the time – failed to see him and pulled away. Wales died instantly.
FedEx delivery driver Gary Saxon was behind Wales when he slipped.
“It happened so quick,” he said. “He had gone down and I slowed down to make sure that he was okay.” When Saxon checked in his mirror, he saw the truck had driven straight over Wales.
Rodrigues, who has not faced any criminal charges over the death, refused to answer when asked if he had checked his mirrors.
Assistant coroner Elizabeth Bussey-Jones found that Wales, who was wearing fluorescent clothing, would have been seen had Rodrigues checked his mirror prior to moving.
She concluded that it was “feasible to speculate” that the volume of vehicles toing and froing had contributed to the state of the road.
Representatives for the Environment Agency, Newham Council and businesses operating from the estate and nearby agreed that road conditions had posed a safety concern for several years.
Rodrigues had been setting off from trucking firm RMS. Managing director Dominic Parkinson said about 50 lorries moved through the site a day, each averaging five loads.
However, Bussey-Jones said that it was not possible to “attribute a specific source of dirt” to one business and added that road conditions had improved following a deep clean and resurfacing.
She recorded a narrative verdict, calling on all parties to “remain vigilant” to ensure conditions did not again deteriorate.
Will Cornwell, the Wales family’s lawyer, said: “It has been incredibly hard for the family to hear the evidence first-hand throughout the inquest and it is essential that vital lessons are learned.
“This case underlines once again how crucial it is that HGV drivers keep a proper lookout for vulnerable road users including cyclists, and the importance of drivers using their mirrors to full effect before pulling away.
“The inquest has also raised important questions about driver distraction when using a hands-free mobile phone and wider issues about corporate responsibility to keep our highways free of hazards.
“The inquest has been a necessary part of the grieving process for the family and I hope that its conclusion enables them to continue the hard process of rebuilding their lives.”