Lancashire cyclist would not have died if crack in rural Winmarleigh road was fixed, coroner says
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Harry Colledge, 84, died in hospital after he was flung from his bike on Island Lane in Winmarleigh on January 2.
Coroner Kate Bisset said Lancashire County Council failed to previously identify or repair the crack.
Recording a narrative verdict, she said if the road had been repaired the previous October it was “more likely than not that he would not have died”.
The council has said it was aware of the coroner's findings and would be “considering” them “thoroughly and carefully”.
The inquest heard the keen cyclist, who was a member of Cleveleys Road Club, had been riding along the road with his friend Nigel Mycock.
Mr Colledge, described as “fit and active”, was riding alongside his friend until they came to a groove in the centre of the road.
Mr Mycock was slightly ahead when he suddenly heard a “sickening crunch” before turning to see Mr Colledge on the floor.
Mr Colledge was treated at the scene and taken to the Royal Preston Hospital but did not regain consciousness.
The hearing was told the council had previously been shown a photo of the crack by a parish councillor, with another shot showing its length.
The coroner found its inspections “did not identify the defect which caused Mr Colledge’s injuries and thus a dangerous hazard had remained”.
Mark O’Donnell, the county council’s highways manager, told the inquest that though the images were shared at a meeting of the council’s “pothole team”, none of the four workers sent to assess the road were shown the photographs.
They failed to spot the cracks during the September 2022 inspection.
One of the highways operatives, Richard Hull, told the inquest that the crack – located in the middle of the road – may have been missed as the “primary focus” of the inspection was to identify “dangers to cars”.
Ms Bisset said that if the crack had been repaired, “it is more likely than not that the collision would not have occurred and thus more likely than not that he would not have died at that time."
The coroner added: “The unrealistic, unsustainable and incomprehensible position adopted by the council with regards to the presence of the defect on Island Lane leaves me with little confidence that meaningful changes have taken place.
“Mr Colledge’s death is an utter tragedy to his family and all who knew him.
“To avoid any further tragedies, I consider it necessary to issue a Regulation 28 notice."
A Regulation 28 Notice allows a coroner to issue a report to an individual, organisations, local authorities or government departments and their agencies where the coroner believes that action should be taken to prevent further deaths.
Lancashire County Council said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Mr Colledge’s family, and we can assure them that we will be considering the findings of this inquest thoroughly and carefully.”