Case Study

Cyclist killed on Corvedale Road near Craven Arms, Salop

Incident date: 
Wed, 17 Oct 2012

A cyclist has been killed and another man seriously injured in a crash on Corvedale Road, near Craven Arms.

A second man had his leg broken when he was attempting to help the cyclist.

The crash occurred at around 08:00 in the morning. It is not known what other road users were involved and whether any arrests have been made.

  • UPDATE (06/11/14)

Two people have gone on trial accused of causing death by careless driving at Shrewsbury Crown Court. The victim, John Edmund Searle, was killed in a sequence of events that saw him run over twice.

The other person injured in the incident was a man who came to the aid of the cyclist. The good Samaritan was hit by another car and suffered a broken leg.

Pamela Willocks and Russel Davies deny causing the death of the 59-year-old classroom assistant, who was killed on the B4368 Corvedale Road near Craven Arms in 2012.

The jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court was told that Willocks, 50, of Watling Street South, Church Stretton, had clipped Mr Searle with her wing mirror, and then Davies, 54, of Burway Road, Church Stretton, had run over him.

Prosecutor Simon Davis said another man, Gary Pitkin, had stopped to help Mr Searle but had then been run over himself.

He said: “Just about 8.20am on October 17, 2012, John Searle was riding his pushbike eastward out of Craven Arms. As he was riding along, Pamela Willocks came up behind him, totally oblivious to his presence. As she came up, the wing mirror struck either his handlebars or Mr Searle, and that caused him to fall where he sustained an injury to his head.

“Travelling some distance behind Mrs Willocks was Russel Davies, driving a VW transporter van with a work colleague. He also didn’t see Mr Searle and drove over him, causing serious injury to his left leg, pelvis and abdomen.

“Another woman was driving behind and also failed to see him, driving over his right leg, causing injury, but nothing as grave as the other injuries.

“Shortly after this, Gary Pitkin, was driving in the opposite direction with three children in the car. He got out to see what he could do. As he was on the phone to the emergency services another car hit him, breaking his leg.”

Mr Searle, of Newington Way, Craven Arms, worked part-time at Onny Primary School in nearby Onibury.

The trial continues.

  • UPDATE (14/11/14)

Giving evidence at court yesterday, Davies said he had been on the way to a job when it happened.

He said: “All of a sudden the near side wheel on the van struck something on the road There was a massive jolt. It felt like something like a raised drain cover or something at the time.

“I was a bit worried something had fallen off the vehicle into the road and that was why we went back really.”

He said he was greeted with “carnage”. “It was not what I expected to see when I came back round the bend,” he added.

Davies’ solicitor Miss Kim Halsall asked him: “Do you know if your vehicle went over his bicycle?”

He replied: “No. I didn’t know at the time, I didn’t know what I had gone over.”

Miss Halsall added: “The prosecution also say your vehicle drove over Mr Searle.”

Davies replied: “I can’t say. I don’t know what I went over at the time.”

The trial continues.

  • UPDATE 20/11/14

Willocks and Davies have both been cleared by a jury of causing death by careless driving. The jury returned unanimous verdicts at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Judge Robert Eades said: “This has been a very unusual case and it had a lot of permutations which made it from a lawyer’s point of view very interesting but from a jury point of view very difficult.”

During the trial Mr Davies, an electrician, had told the court he had felt a “huge jolt” while driving along the road and had returned to find the cyclist face down in the road. He said he still was not sure if he had hit Mr Searle or not.

Mr Davies rejected claims under cross-examination that he had been driving too quickly or had been distracted, and said he had been driving “at a safe speed for those conditions”.

Constable Ian Edwards, a collision expert for West Mercia Police, said sunlight would have been shining directly into the eyes of drivers travelling eastbound on the road on the day cyclist Mr Searle was killed.

The court also heard how a black 4×4 Suzuki Jimny, which had over taken Mrs Willocks’ car moments before the collision, could have affected Mr Searle’s cycling.

CTC's view: 

This is an extremely tragic story, we are truly sorry for the friends and relatives of John Searle.

If the drivers involved in this incident had been driving at a safe speed for the conditions (i.e. blinding sunlight), it is likely that Mr Searle would still be alive today. Only when jurors stop accepting the ‘blinded by sunlight’ excuse and start convicting drivers who injure or kill when they fail to drive to the conditions, will drivers begin to slow down to appropriate speeds when their visibility is affected by sunlight.

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