Court hears biker’s death ‘freak ac­ci­dent’

‘Sheer bad luck’ caused crash in­juries to be fa­tal

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­

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.

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