George Warren inquest: Fordingbridge cyclist killed in road crash was riding without lights or reflective clothing, Winchester Coroners’ Court told

A cyclist who was knocked off his bike and killed on a Forest highway was “effectively invisible” to other road users, a coroners’ court heard.

An inquest into the death of George Warren (23) heard he had gone out on a bike around dusk to buy biscuits at a local store without any protective headgear, bike lights or reflective clothing.

Winchester Coroners’ Court heard Mr Warren, of Salisbury Road, Fordingbridge, had stopped on the A338 near the junction with Flood Street around 8.30pm on 26th October 2021 when he was struck from behind by a Renault Clio.

Winchester Coroners' Court

Winchester Coroners' Court

Winchester Coroners’ Court

Mr Warren suffered severe head injuries and a leg injury in the crash and was taken to University Hospital Southampton by ambulance for treatment, but later died.

Reading from a family statement, assistant coroner Simon Burge said Mr Warren had recently visited his doctor and had been prescribed anti-depressants to treat “mental health problems”.

Mr Warren had the support of his family and would have has medication dished out to him by his mother. The inquest heard Mr Warren was not able to work due to his mental health issues, but had recently been reading, playing guitar and going out for walks on a regular basis.

Mr Burge said that when Mr Warren’s family learned there had been a fatal road crash nearby, his mother had said: “Please tell me he didn’t throw himself under a bus.”

The coroner said, in spite of the family’s initial concern, there was no suggestion Mr Warren had gone out on his bike with the intention of losing his life.

The family said they were “totally broken” following the death of Mr Warren, whom they described as a “gentle, kind soul”.

The statement continued: “He was the sort of person who would insist on a hug, even if you were a man and not really into hugging.”

A witness statement from a motorist said the Renault Clio which struck Mr Warren was being driven “erratically” and swerving off the highway before striking Mr Warren while he was stationary on his bike in the middle of the road.

After police arrived at the scene of the crash, the Renault driver was found to be on anti-epilepsy medication that had “impaired” his ability to drive. The inquest heard the driver also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was swearing at officers, who had considered charging him with a motoring offence.

Giving evidence at the inquest, police forensic crash investigator Michael Toy said it was after the hours of darkness on an overcast day when the crash happened. Mr Toy noted Mr Warren was not wearing any reflective clothing or a safety helmet, nor did his bike have any reflective fittings or lights.

The inquest heard Mr Warren may have been using the torch function on his mobile phone as a light while riding, although it was not mounted to the bike frame and he would have had to hold it in his hand while riding. Mr Toy found the phone near the crash scene with the light on during the course of his investigation.

He found the Renault Clio was in a roadworthy condition, with either its full or partial headlights on at the time of the crash. He also noted it was being driven under the 50mph speed limit, at between 35 and 47mph.

Answering questions from the coroner, Mr Toy said that because of Mr Warren’s position in the road and the way headlights are offset on British vehicles, the Renault driver stood no chance of seeing the rider until he was within the “cone” of his headlamps, by which time there would be no time to brake.

Mr Toy agreed with Mr Burge’s suggestion that, if the Renault were not on the road to strike Mr Warren, one of the other cars following the vehicle would have. He said the Renault driver was later “convicted for impaired driving” but the conviction had no relevance to the outcome of the inquest.

Recording a conclusion of misadventure, Mr Burge said Mr Warren had been “effectively invisible” to road users when he was killed. He also expressed his “sincere condolences to a family who have suffered a huge loss”.