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Warning signs could have saved cyclist’s life who hit pothole and died in her daughter’s arms, hears inquest

The council’s highways authority had already been made aware of the “badly degraded” stretch of road where the “experienced” cyclist fell and was fatally injured

A cyclist who lost her life in her daughter’s arms after hitting a pothole in Derbyshire, which the council had been made aware of after other cyclists had also fallen on the same road in the weeks prior, could have been saved had proper warning signage been put up, a coroner’s inquest has heard.

52-year-old Carolyn Dumbleton was cycling down Willersley Lane, Cromford with her husband, when she was thrown off her bike after hitting a huge pothole and sustained fatal injuries in July 2018.

An inquest has now heard that other riders reported falls at the same spot in the weeks before and repairs were scheduled. However they had not been completed before Mrs Dumbleton's accident, reports the BBC.

The hearing at Chesterfield Coroner's Court was told the highways authority of the Derbyshire County Council had been made aware of the damage to the road in May 2018, when another cyclist fell on the same stretch of road. The council had decided it would carry out the repairs in August.

> 75-year-old cyclist suffers broken pelvis and collarbone in yet another pothole-induced accident

Willersley Lane, Cromford (Google Maps)

Willersley Lane, Cromford (Google Maps)

Derbyshire coroner Peter Nieto said that there had been six visits by highways workers to the sites before Dumbleton was injured there.

He said: “Quite a deep area had been hollowed out in that section, which clearly posed quite a significant hazard to cyclists.

“The county council should have taken some interim measures to mitigate the hazard the degrading road surface posed to road users, particularly cyclists. Warning signs should have been put up. They were not.”

Mrs Dumbleton, originally from Lincoln, and her husband Ian were keen club cyclists who had been to Derbyshire for a ride that day. According to GPS data, they were going downhill at 23mph when they reached the pothole-stricken stretch of road.

> "What if a cyclist hits this?": Councillor raises alarm over enormous pothole big enough to stand waist-deep in

The coroner said the poor state of the road would only have been evident when they were 20m (65ft) from it, leaving them only two seconds to react. However, the warning signs would have alerted Mrs Dumbleton, who might then have been able to slow down or take evasive action.

He added that Mr and Mrs Dumbleton were "proficient and experienced" cyclists on well-maintained bikes and were not riding inappropriately fast at the time.

He apologised to Mrs Dumbleton's family for the five-year gap between her death and the inquest, and concluded: “It is probable she came off her bike when she encountered a badly degraded road surface.”

The county council had inspected the road in February 2018, as part of a routine three-month check, and found no major faults. However, several other cyclists had fallen on the road since then and had reported it the council.

The court had heard from a senior council highways manager, who conceded signs should have been put up.

> Couple in hospital after they both crash in huge pothole

Mrs Dumbleton, according to DerbyshireLive, was thrown 60 feet in the air when she hit a manhole cover which was in a six-foot hole on Sunday, July 8. She sustained a broken neck, severe bruising to her spinal cord and went into cardiac arrest following the accident.

After five days of fighting for her life in a coma, the life support system was switched off. Her daughter Samantha said in a Facebook post that she held her mother in her final moments.

After the hearing, Derbyshire County Council's director of highways Julian Gould said: “We can only imagine how difficult the past few days have been for the family and friends of Mrs Dumbleton, and our thoughts remain with them.

“This tragic accident took place over five years ago and we recognise that there were actions that we could have taken at the time. Lessons have been learned and we have implemented multiple actions to prevent a similar accident occurring again.

“We hope that by our actions we have shown our determination to prevent a similar tragic accident occurring on our roads and we are sorry to the family and friends of Mrs Dumbleton for their loss.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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4 comments

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Safety | 4 months ago
3 likes

Six visits by the council before the accident.

No wonder the council tax is so expensive and they get a reputation for inefficiency and incompetence. How about a single visit by one person qualified with appropriate authority to both assess the work required and prepare the works instructions/contract. Including what short term actions are required such as signage. Save money and much more importantly lives.

Avatar
leipreachan | 4 months ago
6 likes

I'm reading this as: no consequences for people in charge.

Avatar
Winchman | 4 months ago
8 likes

The  Council should be in court for negligent manslaughter. And should be sued. Totally unacceptable, as is the 5 year gap to the inquest. I always include "safety hazard" when I report a pothole and it appears to bring quick action.

Avatar
Spangly Shiny | 4 months ago
12 likes

If the state of the road had been pointed out to the relevant authority (as mentioned) it was no accident. It was a fatal incident caused by negligence on behalf of the authority.

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