CITY cyclist Lee Squire paid with his life when he rode into the path of a van after he jumped a red light, an inquest has been told.
The single and unemployed 29-year-old suffered multiple injuries to his head and limbs in the accident at the junction of Western Way and Summerland Street, Exeter, last August.
He was on his way to see his girlfriend. Witnesses at yesterday’s inquest in Honiton told of seeing him thrown into the air ‘like a rag doll’.
Exeter and Greater Devon deputy coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of accidental death in the case of Mr Squire, of Little Way, Alphington.
The inquest heard that Mr Squire had been born with spina bifida and experienced difficulties in walking due to his disability. He had taken up cycling because it made it easier for him to get about.
Witnesses to the accident, on August 13, said it appeared he had ridden through the lights from the direction of Summerland Street as they were changing to red.
He died in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth two days later.
Driving instructor Danny Levy, who was giving a lesson, said in a statement the cyclist was tossed between two metres or more into the air on impact with the van.
Another witness, Simon White, said the cyclist had not been wearing a safety helmet.
“I saw his head hitting the van’s windscreen and he tumbled through the air like a rag doll,” said Mr White, an officer worker.
Van driver Julian Ghail said in evidence he drove through the lights on green from the direction of Sidwell Street and then the cyclist appeared.
A shocked Mr Ghail reacted by slamming on his brakes. “It was only a fraction of a second at point of impact,” he said.
“The windscreen smashed when the cyclist hit it.”
Mr Squire’s mother Julie, from Whipton, who attended the inquest with family members, said in a statement her son was born with spina bifida and took to cycling because it made him more mobile.
“Lee would be prone to take chances at lights,” she said, pointing out he had a ‘carefree attitude’ when it came to going through them.
Police accident investigator Darren Philp said judging by his investigation of the lights’ timing sequence the cyclist must have gone through the junction when they were red.
He said the van driver had complied fully with the traffic signals.
The coroner emphasised the need for cyclists to wear helmets, saying a helmet could have improved the chances of Mr Squire’s survival.
“This accident adds as a reminder to wearing a cycle helmet,” he said.
“Lee overcame difficulties in his life which he did admirably and it is sad he died at this age and in these circumstances.”