Cyclist died in crash on 'poor' road surface, inquest hears

Konrad Pieterse
Konrad Pieterse
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A popular Bexhill cyclist who died in a collision near Fairlight earlier this year had crossed on to the wrong side of the road while turning into a sharp bend, an inquest heard this week.

Dental technician Konrad Pieterse, 55, from Wartling Drive was one of a group of cyclists taking part in a sponsored bike ride, when he fatally collided with a car on Battery Hill on June 15.

At an inquest, held at Muriel Matters House in Hastings on Tuesday (November 21), several of the other cyclists taking part in the ride described how Mr Pieterse had crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and hit a car as he attempted to turn a sharp corner.

All the cyclists said the road was in a poor condition, saying there was a large amount of potholes and uneven tarmac at the outside edge of the road. They said that this, combined with the curve of the bend, had forced them to ride near to the centre of the two-lane road.

Gary Smith, who had been directly behind Mr Pieterse in the group, said he ‘couldn’t tell’ if he had lost control of the bike before the collision as it had happened ‘instantly’ after he crossed
through the centre of the road.

Mr Smith said: “I don’t really know if he hit something like a pothole or a stone. It happened so quickly.”

The inquest also heard from forensic collision investigator PC Paul Banks, who had conducted an examination into the crash.

Reading from his report, PC Banks said the road conditions were poor and had several large ‘defects’ but had not been below the standard requiring intervention by East Sussex Highways.

As part of his examination PC Banks also looked at a GPS device on Mr Pieterse’s bike, which recorded an estimated speed of between 31 and 39 mph during the moments leading up to the crash.

PC Banks said: “I am unable to say whether this [collision] is a result of his speed, the road condition, a move to avoid part of the road condition or some combination of the above.”

PC Banks also concluded that the car’s driver – 88-year-old Jean Harris – was not to blame for the collision. He said: “I don’t believe she could have done anything different to avoid the accident.’

East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze said she had “simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

In his conclusion Mr Craze said: “[Mr Pieterse hit] a car coming the other way.He was riding at nearly 40 mph. The road surface was poor and there were areas of unevenness. He died at the scene.”

Mr Craze recorded the cause of death as a road traffic collision.