Questions over fence safety

Lee Richardson
Lee Richardson

A CORONER raised questions about the safety barriers at the Polish race track where speedway legend Lee Richardson crashed sustaining fatal injuries.

East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze queried the track in Wroclaw which had 40 metres of plywood along the side where the father-of-three fell.

The 33-year-old former Eastbourne Eagles rider was trying to get past a competitor on the first bend when his front wheel touched the rider’s back wheel.

Lee, who lived in Eisenhower Drive, was thrown off his bike and hit the wooden safety barrier sustaining fatal injuries and died later in hospital.

At his inquest on Wednesday at Hasting Magistrates Court, Mr Craze recorded a verdict that his death was an accident.

But he asked questions about the wooden barriers which were mounted on metal supports fixed to metal posts.

He said: “It seems that on some part of the safety barrier there was rubber but the part he hit was wooden.

“In this country I would have wanted some details about that.

“In my opinion, if you could make speedway safer by putting rubber all the way round, it’s possible the coroner may make a recommendation that can be looked into.

“I do not know about speedway regulations in Poland. In my mind there is that question if you have got regulations for safety precautions.

“If they are not up to scratch, then that would be a matter of concern.”

The inquest heard Lee was taking part in a race at the Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw for the PGE Marma Rzeszow team on May 13 last year when the tragedy took place.

He was taking part in the third heat starting at 6.15pm from gate number four.

A statement given by Lee’s mechanic Tomasz Jedrzecjzak, who witnessed the crash, said: “Lee was in last place. He was attempting to, on the inside, to undertake Fred Lingren.

“He touched the back of Lingren’s bike. He lost his balance and lost control and fell forward colliding with the safety barrier and landed on the ground.”

The court heard how Lee was taken to hospital in Wroclaw but later died from extensive internal injuries.

Mr Craze added: “It was a tragic accident.

“You have got to recognise that brave and courageous people like Lee that take part in a sport which carries a considerable degree of danger, know perfectly well that there is a chance that something like this can happen.”