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Esther Hartsilver inquest: Junction where cyclist was crushed under wheels of truck was ‘accident waiting to happen’

The lorry driver involved in the death of a London cyclist today said the road junction where she was crushed under his wheels was “an accident waiting to happen”. Co-op driver Philip Beadle said he was required to turn left over a bus lane to follow a signed route from Denmark Hill[1] to Coldharbour Lane when he collided with NHS physiotherapist Esther Hartsilver[2] as she rode to work. Mr Beadle, 47, who was cleared at Blackfriars crown court last year of causing Ms Hartsilver’s death by careless driving, told an inquest into her death: “I think that in my experience it’s just an accident waiting to happen.

“The road network of London roads is so close-knit anyway, with everybody trying to get to one place. To get junctions that you come into conflict, even more so. They shouldn’t be there.”

Mr Beadle, who was on route to making a delivery to Coldharbour Lane, said he had never driven on the one-way route – from Denmark Hill via a left turn into Orpheus Street – before. He has been a lorry driver for 15 years and said he had checked his mirrors before turning left.

denmark-hill.jpgRoads in the area were cordoned off after the collision (Picture: Twitter/Beverley Hunt) (Twitter/Beverley Hunt )

Recalling the crash, at about 8am on May 28, 2015, he told Southwark coroner’s court: “It was like a metally noise then a scream and then a bump. That all happened in seconds.

I stopped straight away. I thought maybe I had hit railings. I just went to the back of the lorry and saw Ms Hartsilver in the road.”

Ms Hartsilver, 32, an experienced cyclist who was riding to her work at King’s College hospital, suffered massive crush injuries. Medics from London’s Air Ambulance attempted to perform a military-style procedure on the roadside to stem catastrophic bleeding and opened her chest to keep her heat beating.

cc3.jpgExperience cyclist: Physiotherapist Esther Hartsilver

A huge trauma and surgical team at King’s fought for six hours to save her life. Lead trauma surgeon Duncan Bew said the King’s team was aware they were treating a fellow member of staff. “I recognised her immediately,” he said in written evidence.

He said she had a “devastating injury” to her right thigh and pelvis. She was pronounced dead at 3pm after every resuscitation option had been exhausted. A post mortem gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.

Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said she was holding the inquest to determine whether she should write a prevention of future deaths report “to prevent future loss of life”. Officials from Transport for London and Southwark council are being called to give evidence. Ms Hartsilver’s family did not attend court but in a letter to the coroner appealed for her death not to be in vain.

esther-harts1.jpgTragedy: Esther Hartsilver, 32

Her sister Dr Emma Hartsilver wrote: “Our concerns are related to road safety for other cyclists in London and countrywide.

“I earnestly hope that some good can come of Esther’s death by working to prevent cyclist deaths on the road.” She said Esther, a “competent road cyclist” who previously worked at Chelsea and Westminster hospital, was “extremely sociable”. At the time she was “happy and looking forward to the future”.

Dr Hartsilver, writing on behalf of all four siblings, said: “We are all devastated by the death of our sister.” She said Ms Hartsilver had completed charity bike rides, including one from London to Paris, and was preparing to go on a cycling holiday with a sister to Majorca. Dr Hartsilver said that in April 2015 her sister had witnessed a person in cardiac arrest as she cycled to work.

She and a St John Ambulance volunteer performed CPR resuscitation and saved the victim’s life, earning her a bravery award of which she was proud.

The inquest continues.

Reuse content[3]


  1. ^ Denmark Hill (www.standard.co.uk)
  2. ^ Esther Hartsilver (www.standard.co.uk)
  3. ^ Reuse content (www.standard.co.uk)

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