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Questions 'still remain' over cyclist's death after he hit pothole
5:00am Thursday 6th March 2014 in News
The wife of a cyclist run over and killed after plunging into a “pothole” on Settle bypass says there are still questions to answer.
Kate Uzzell’s 51-year-old husband Martyn died when he fell from his bike into the path of a car while on a Land’s End to John O Groats charity ride, on June 17, 2011.
The wheel of his cycle dropped into a trench in the road, which had appeared around a drainage grate, causing him to wobble and fall.
The coroner, Rob Turnbull, who recorded a verdict that Mr Uzzell of Clevedon, Somerset, died as a result of a road traffic collision, heard that the defect in the bypass, near Giggleswick, had been reported twice prior to the accident by Ingleton police officer Sgt Mark Hill.
His alert on May 5, 2011, was passed from police control to North Yorkshire County Council, but no action was taken.
Mrs Uzzell, 47, said: “The nature of the inquest hearing doesn’t provide all the answers but the coroner stated the pothole around the gulley is what caused Martyn to be thrown into the path of the car.”
Before recording his verdict, Mr Turnbull reminded those present at the hearing in Skipton that his job was not to attribute blame but simply to establish the facts around Mr Uzzell’s tragic death.
He said from the evidence it appeared the hole – its depth ranged between 102mm and 65mm – had been there some days.
“No doubt the condition of the road was the cause of the accident,” he said.
He heard evidence from county council officers who were responsible for the maintenance of the road.
Highways Inspector Ian Jewitt, now retired, said he had inspected the road on May 13, describing it as “scabby” and starting to break up. He did not believe it needed immediate attention but would have to be repaired within a month. I would have noticed if it was like it was at the time of the accident and resolved it immediately, I would not have left it in that condition,” he said.
His colleague, Martin Webster, said he had inspected the site on June 10 and did not spot that it needed any attention.
“If I had, I would would have dealt with it then and filled it in or put a cone out to warn people and told the contractor of a serious defect.”
He said that “catastrophic” failures of the surface, as he believed it was, could appear over a very short period.
Michael Roberts, the county’s head of highways opperations, said: “I would be astonished if the hole had been there for any length of time. It would have been seen and action taken.”
Mr Uzzell, who was riding with his brother-in-law, James Payne, and friend Christopher Freeman, was hit by the VW Golf driven by Talvinder Panesar of Leeds, who was driving to the Lake District with his wife.
As he overtook, he saw Mr Uzzell wobble and then heard a thud.
“He was still on his bike when he fell and I went over him,” said Mr Panesar, who needed time to compose himself as he gave his evidence. He believed he was giving sufficent room when overtaking.
Coach driver Kenneth Backhouse, who was taking a group of school children from Eastburn to Clapham, said he clearly saw Mr Uzzell’s cycle go into the pothole and Mr Uzzell fall into the path of the car.
Other witnesses were consistent in their description of Mr Uzzell falling from his bike in an attempt to avoid the hole.