Court hears biker’s death ‘freak accident’
‘Sheer bad luck’ caused crash injuries to be fatal
AN experienced motorcyclist who was involved in what should have been a survivable crash died due to a ‘big element of bad luck,’ an inquest heard.
Graham Wallace Ritchie, 75, who lived in Old Sax Lane in Chartridge, Chesham, died after his Honda motorbike crashed into the back of a Ford Fiesta on the A413 between Chalfont St Peter and Chalfont St Giles on Sunday, June 21 at about 11.50am.
An inquest into Mr Ritchie’s death was held at Beaconsfield Coroner’s Court on Thursday last week.
The court heard Mr Ritchie, a retired brick layer who was born in Chalfont St Giles, died from ‘freakish’ injuries following what should have been an easily survivable crash.
Ford Fiesta driver Charlie Nibb, from Gerrards Cross, was travelling along the A143 with his girlfriend to pick up their friend in Chesham.
On the 50mph stretch of the road, traffic was slowing due to a cyclist on the road and Mr Nibb reduced his speed.
He was waiting to overtake the cyclist when he heard a loud bang and realised a motorcyclist was on the road behind his car. He and other motorists who witnessed the accident went to assist the motorcyclist and called the emergency services. Moments before the impact, witnesses said the motorbike was on its front wheel with the back wheel in the air.
Thames Valley Police’s collision investigator Steven Moffat told the court CCTV evidence showed Mr Ritchie was not speeding or driving badly in the minutes leading up to the crash, but that he was also not a ‘shrinking violet’ and was happy to overtake traffic.
Just before Mr Ritchie reached Mr Nibb’s car, a group of motorcyclists were riding on the opposite side of the road. Mr Moffat believes Mr Ritchie could have greeted them by giving a nod, and was maybe distracted looking at their bikes, not realising traffic was slowing down in front of him until it was too late.
Mr Moffat said Mr Ritchie was an experienced biker and did an emergency breaking move called a stopper. As he was doing the manoeuvre, he struck the back of the Ford Fiesta which flipped his motorcycle and threw him in the air, resulting in him receiving significant injuries.
Mr Moffat said: “There was a potential distraction and he eventually realised the only thing he could do was an emergency break. When you get to the stage of needing to carry out an emergency break on a motorcycle it’s then down to the luck of the gods, there’s an awful lot of potluck involved.
“It’s pretty sad because the injuries he received were freakish in a way, it was sheer bad luck to land in such an awkward manor. It was a survivable collision, if things were slightly different, if the bike was a few degrees one way or another, he could have easily survived the collision.”
Coroner Richard Hulett said: “It’s a frequent factor in these types of cases, that the reason we’re here is because of a big element of bad luck.
“There’s nothing to be criticised. Everyone was driving or riding entirely appropriately, he was just caught out and it was bad luck.
“He was doing the best he could, but it was a freakish conclusion. In many other cases people would have lived to tell the tale.”
Mr Hulett recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.