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Cyclist jumped red light before fatal collision

By This is Devon  |  Posted: May 21, 2010

  • 'CAREFREE ATTITUDE': Lee Squire's mother told an inquest he often rode through red lights

  • MULTIPLE INJURIES: Above, police block off Western Way following the collision. Below, flowers and a card left at the scene of the crash in which Lee Squire was fatally hurt

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CITY cyclist Lee Squire paid with his life when he rode into the path of a van after he jumped a red light, an inquest has been told.

The single and unemployed 29-year-old suffered multiple injuries to his head and limbs in the accident at the junction of Western Way and Summerland Street, Exeter, last August.

He was on his way to see his girlfriend. Witnesses at yesterday's inquest in Honiton told of seeing him thrown into the air 'like a rag doll'.

Exeter and Greater Devon deputy coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of accidental death in the case of Mr Squire, of Little Way, Alphington.

The inquest heard that Mr Squire had been born with spina bifida and experienced difficulties in walking due to his disability. He had taken up cycling because it made it easier for him to get about.

Witnesses to the accident, on August 13, said it appeared he had ridden through the lights from the direction of Summerland Street as they were changing to red.

He died in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth two days later.

Driving instructor Danny Levy, who was giving a lesson, said in a statement the cyclist was tossed between two metres or more into the air on impact with the van.

Another witness, Simon White, said the cyclist had not been wearing a safety helmet.

"I saw his head hitting the van's windscreen and he tumbled through the air like a rag doll," said Mr White, an officer worker.

Van driver Julian Ghail said in evidence he drove through the lights on green from the direction of Sidwell Street and then the cyclist appeared.

A shocked Mr Ghail reacted by slamming on his brakes. "It was only a fraction of a second at point of impact," he said.

"The windscreen smashed when the cyclist hit it."

Mr Squire's mother Julie, from Whipton, who attended the inquest with family members, said in a statement her son was born with spina bifida and took to cycling because it made him more mobile.

"Lee would be prone to take chances at lights," she said, pointing out he had a 'carefree attitude' when it came to going through them.

Police accident investigator Darren Philp said judging by his investigation of the lights' timing sequence the cyclist must have gone through the junction when they were red.

He said the van driver had complied fully with the traffic signals.

The coroner emphasised the need for cyclists to wear helmets, saying a helmet could have improved the chances of Mr Squire's survival.

"This accident adds as a reminder to wearing a cycle helmet," he said.

"Lee overcame difficulties in his life which he did admirably and it is sad he died at this age and in these circumstances."

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    John, Exeter  |  May 25 2010, 9:19PM

    Fewer cars in Exeter would be a good thing. Safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Unnecessary amount of cars on the roads. Also, more people cycling = fitter, healthier population = fewer health problems in the population as a whole = reduction in NHS costs = helping Britain reduce it's deficits. Do your bit for Britain and get off your fat bottoms and ride a bike!

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    barry, exeter  |  May 25 2010, 9:14AM

    ban bikes of the roads. if they want to cycle go into parks and cycle round and round. they provide no purpose to modern life. long live the car

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    Jimmy, Exeter  |  May 24 2010, 11:10PM

    AP, regardless of whether you think cyclists jumping red lights is a big problem - as a driver i am aware that every time i turn left at some lights i could quite easily have driven into cyclist going forward, and it always freaks me out that how ever hard i try to look to remember to check my blind spot, i never seem to manage it. As a cyclist i see this situation occur frequently. I just dont like being around vehicles at junctions.

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    Alan, Exeter, Devon  |  May 24 2010, 6:59PM

    Sorry Cyril but having more cars on the road doesnt change the behaviour of cyclists as they will jump red lights if there are cars at traffic lights or not. As for "people over 40" I think thats dangerous ground as younger drivers tend to drive faster thus relying more on your "reactions times" to avoid accidents.

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    cyril, exeter  |  May 24 2010, 5:33PM

    AP - the problem is not cyclists but the number of cars on the roads. driving is too cheap and therefore people drive too much--even very short distances eg 5 miles. easy to say that jumping red lights causes fatalities-- just like speeding, driving massive cars, people over the age of 4o still driving with there reduced reaction times.etc etc keep smiling

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    AP, Exeter  |  May 24 2010, 5:00PM

    Jimmy you are so wrong! Jumping red lights is a problem and that problem has been highlighted again and again when someone gets killed or seriously injured. It also has to be remembered that when cyclist jump lights and in this instance dies from the injuries, there is also a second victim, the driver! Through no fault of there own they have to live with the fact that they, unintentionally, were involved in the death of another human. That can't be easy to live with. I am a daily cyclist and I get totally pi$$ed off when other riders jump lights.

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    cyling cyril, exeter  |  May 24 2010, 11:11AM

    as a cyclist i jump red lights (and often get dirty looks from car drivers) as a car driver i try to respect the speed limits (and get even greater amounts of dirty looks from car drivers frustrated at my slow-but still maximum road limit- speed) in reality rules are for other people ant not ourselves. therefore do as you wish --but please do it with a smile as you will look friendlier

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    Jimmy, Exeter  |  May 24 2010, 10:32AM

    Jumping red lights is not the problem. Even cyclists obeying lights get killed if they try to go forward at the lights and a left turning vehicle doesnt see them - which ironically cannot occur if the cyclist jumps the red light - this is the primary cause of cyclist fatalities in london. The problem is preoccupied cyclists not looking out for oncoming traffic. Regardless of the colour of the lights i always check both ways at least twice before going through, and i always stop between vehicles so they can see where i am if they are turning left. And yes i do sometimes jump red lights when the coast is clear, primarily for the reason listed above.

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    Olly, Exeter  |  May 23 2010, 2:24PM

    You jump a light you take your chance. I do a lot of commuter miles round the city and have great respect for vehicles, I got knocked off last year on Rydon Lane by a lady who didnt see me and it hurt! Expect the unexpected.

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    Catherine, Exeter  |  May 23 2010, 6:30AM

    I choose to wear a cycle helmet, but I'm under no illusions about the limitations of its protection. In a collision with several tons of metal a helmet is useless, and would not have saved Mr. Squire's life. Helmets are even sold with the disclaimer that they will offer no protection in a car accident. I wear mine in case of minor falls caused by eg. potholes, which could otherwise be more serious. However, according to research, drivers behave on average more aggressively around cyclists wearing helmets, presumably because they mistakenly regard them as being less vulnerable. Helmets also discourage people from cycling. As more cyclists on the road equals fewer cars and more experienced and aware drivers, it would compromise cyclists' safety to make helmets compulsory. The wearing or lack of a helmet affects no-one but the cyclist themselves, so it should continue to be a personal choice.

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