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Head-on collision took life of cyclist

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 12, 2014

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A FORMER chairman of Camelford Carnival died after veering onto the wrong side of the road while out cycling and collided with a Land Rover, an inquest heard.

John Phillips, 50, was out cycling with two friends on Sunday, November 11, 2012 when he was in collision with the vehicle, which was towing a trailer on an unclassified road just outside St Mabyn.

Mr Phillips, from Delabole, died at the scene from multiple bone fractures and brain haemorrhage. It was estimated the collision speed was between 35 and 39mph.

Although Mr Phillips was wearing a high visibility jacket and helmet, the equipment was simply not designed to withstand the force of the impact, Truro Coroner's Court heard on Monday.

Mr Phillips was riding with friends and keen cyclists David Lantin and James Driscoll, with Mr Lantin approximately 20 metres in front and Mr Driscoll 20 metres behind at the time of impact.

Road cycling was a "new hobby" for Mr Philips and it is believed that he had only ridden a new bicycle he purchased shortly before the accident three times.

Stephen Hyde, of St Mabyn, was driving his Land Rover out of the village, past Mr Lantin and up the hill towards the hamlet of Longstone when Mr Phillips suddenly came around the corner on the wrong side of the road. Mr Phillips directly collided with the front of the Land Rover at a vertical position having made no attempt to hit the brakes or steer away.

A police investigation found that Mr Hyde was in the correct position on the road and driving at the legal speed of 28mph when Mr Phillips collided with the vehicle.

The potential impact of adverse weather conditions was also ruled out as visibility was good and no road defects were found.

Mr Phillips' bicycle was also in good condition with no malfunctions.

Police collision investigator MPC Mike Lackey told the inquest that in critical moments cyclists and motorbike riders "often focus on potential hazards so intensely that they fail to take the necessary action and therefore hit the object directly".

Mr Lackey said Mr Phillips "failed to maintain the position on his side of the road" and believes a lack of riding experience may have contributed to his death.

Mr Lackey said Mr Phillips could easily have taken the bend without going onto the wrong side of the road.

He said that there was no explanation for Mr Phillips' decision.

Deputy Coroner for Cornwall, Barrie Van den Berg, concluded that this was "no silly risk" but simply a decision by Mr Phillips "that cannot be explained".

He recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

Mr Phillips was the former manager of a Cornwall Care home at Wadebridge having worked for the company for eight years, first as assistant manager at the St Breock, home and then as manager.

In 2008 he had taken up a central role in their head office at Truro and had become known throughout the county.

He also took a leading part in the community as chairman of the governors of Camelford Primary School and chairman of Camelford Carnival.

He leaves a wife, Sandra, and a son and daughter, and is also survived by his mother.

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