Triathlete’s son found out mum killed in crash during event they were both competing in

A son has told how he found out that his mum had died after being hit by a van[1] in a triathlon event he was also competing in.

Rebecca Comins, 52, was struck by a Vauxhall Movano van driven by Vasile Barbu on the A40 near Raglan, in Monmouthshire, on June 2, 2022. She sadly died at the scene due to severe chest injuries.

During a trial at Cardiff Crown Court, it was revealed that Barbu, 49, from Abergavenny, denied causing death by dangerous driving[2], but admitted to causing death by careless driving. He was eventually convicted of the more serious charge. At the time of the fatal collision, both Mrs Comins and the defendant were travelling on the eastbound carriageway. The sportswoman was participating in a time trial event organised by Monmouthshire Wheelers, along with other cyclists.

Vasile Barbu
Vasile Barbu (
WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

The section of the A40 where the accident took place was straight. A subsequent probe carried out by a forensic collision investigator concluded that Mrs Comins would have been visible for at least 500 metres before the impact. The court heard that the cyclist was half a metre from the edge of the road, and the outside lane was clear, meaning the defendant could have overtaken her without any problems.

Driver Andrew Allman witnessed the tragic accident in his rear-view mirror after he had passed Mrs Comins. He recounted seeing Barbu collide with Mrs Comin’s bike, resulting in her being flung onto the grass verge. After safely pulling over, he immediately dialled 999. Despite the valiant efforts of passersby to assist Mrs Comins before emergency services arrived, she sadly died at the scene due to her injuries.

Barbu, who stayed at the scene, spoke to police and appeared distressed. Tests confirmed he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and his eyesight was deemed satisfactory, reports Wales Online[3].

George Comins, the victim’s son, was also participating in the same time trial event as his mother and had previously joined her in representing Great Britain at triathlon events in the World and European Championships. Recounting the tragic day, he said: “At the hospital, I was told mum had been killed and I didn’t know what to do. My father arrived and I couldn’t tell him. Milly (his sister Amelia) was screaming on the other end of the phone, the worst part of it all.

“It was hard to interact with others, there were no words and we were unsure how others would react. I couldn’t tell anyone about it initially without breaking down. It didn’t feel right about Mum and felt too soon. Everything changed in that minute. Mum would have been around to experience the rest of our lives after working so hard to make us the best people we could be.

“She won’t be around to see our weddings or grandchildren, who will never have the chance to meet or learn from her. Events like birthdays and Christmas[4] are difficult for us, there will always be a part of us missing, it won’t be the same without her. I will never have her there watching me compete and I’ll never be able to watch her compete again. We will never be able to compete together again, something we loved to do. I have only just returned to the sport with a big part missing and I’ll never take part in an open road triathlon again.”

And during the defendant’s sentencing hearing on Friday Amelia Comins, shared that she was at university in Cambridge when she received the devastating news of her mother’s death. She recalled: “I had a call from dad. I tried to stay calm, I thought the worst case scenario would be mum was badly injured and I could get the next train to see her… Instead he picked up the phone and all he could get out was ‘Mils, Mils, mum has been killed.'”

“At that point my world[5] fell apart, I have never felt pain like it. I felt like I had been struck by lightning…. I remember screaming ‘It can’t be true, it can’t be true, there’s no way this is happening’.” She said: “Before mum died, I had never experienced anxiety, I am scared of losing other family and friends. I miss our chats and laughs, her advice and support. Everyone says I look and sound like her. I miss the day to day things like sitting at the table, having a cup of tea and sharing a bag of chocolate buttons, going to the shops or having our hair done.”

Mrs Comins husband Stephen said: “Every event is now different, a massive part of our lives is missing. Dealing with a big loss is hard and gets worse as time goes on. The pain and heartache never goes away. The hardest part is always returning to an empty house, I miss her so much. My wife was incredibly supportive of everything our children did… At home nothing has changed, her dressing table, perfume and clothes are still there as she left it, frozen in time.”

Judge Shoman Khan, addressing the bereaved family of Mrs Comins, acknowledged the irrevocable damage inflicted upon them, stating: “I recognise your lives have been shattered and no sentence I can pass can even begin to remediate your grief, pain and sense of loss. This collision should not have happened. Mrs Comins was in no way to blame, she did nothing wrong.”

Barbu received a four-year prison sentence, with the stipulation that he would serve half of this time behind bars before being eligible for release on licence. Additionally, he faces a four-year driving ban.


  1. ^ after being hit by a van (
  2. ^ dangerous driving (
  3. ^ Wales Online (
  4. ^ Christmas (
  5. ^ world (