Road Race Cyclist's Death 'An Accident'
22 April 2016, 07:20 | Updated: 22 April 2016, 07:23
The death of a Nottinghamshire cyclist who collided with a road sign at around 40mph in the closing metres of a race was an accident, a coroner has concluded.
Jason Catley was riding in the Curve of Doom road race around Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, when he clipped his front wheel against a competitor and lost control of his bike, an inquest into the 44-year-old's death heard.
Mr Catley veered left from the pack, striking a step ladder which was being used by the race director to film the finish line before colliding with a road sign like it was ``a brick wall''.
Medical staff at the race attempted CPR but Mr Catley suffered serious head injuries and a cardiac arrest shortly after the crash on June 20 last year, Rutland and North Leicestershire Coroner's Court in Loughborough heard.
One of the riders in the race, Alessandro Williams, described the closing stages of the 42-mile (68km) event as ``manic and dangerous''.
He told the court: ``I felt it was manic and dangerous because of not only the speed we were approaching the finish but also the twisting nature of it (the course).''
He added: ``Everything was flying past because of the speed we were doing'', and suggested the leading pack approached speeds of 50mph towards the end of the race.
Other riders had previously told the coroner that speeds were around 45mph when crossing the line, and Susan Rodway QC, who was representing Mr Catley's family, suggested he was travelling at around 40mph when the crash took place.
The event, in which around 60 riders took part, was organised by the West Bridgford-based OVB cycling club in Nottinghamshire.
Among the spectators at the finish was Philippa Richardson who was standing close to the site of the accident.
She told the court about a ``loud click or metal mechanical sound'' in the moments leading up to the crash as Mr Catley's front wheel struck the rear wheel of another rider.
She said: ``I just remember seeing them coming round the corner. I heard a loud click or metal mechanical sound and saw a rider just veering straight across the road hitting the ladder.''
The race first aider, paramedic Erica Smyth, was travelling behind the peloton and said she remembers arriving to find Mr Catley struggling to breathe.
She told the court: ``He was poorly and I knew that.''
Two minutes after Mr Catley's crash, rider and doctor Martin Smith crossed the finish line and was waved down to help with the treatment by which point Mr Catley had gone into cardiac arrest.
Dr Smith, who works in intensive care medicine, said: ``I did a quick assessment and realised very rapidly that I could not find a pulse so asked for CPR to be started.''
Resuscitation efforts continued until the air ambulance arrived to take Mr Catley, of Screveton, Nottinghamshire, to hospital.
Trevor Kirkman, senior coroner for Rutland and North Leicestershire, said Mr Catley's death was ``tragic and untimely'' and recorded the cause of death as head injuries.
Addressing the family in court, he added: ``I hope in some small way having heard the evidence, distressing though much of it is, it leads to a better understanding of what happened on that day.
``It seems that the proper conclusion that I shall record is that Jason Catley died as a result of an accident.''