Inquest told walker ‘stepped in front of car’

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“I didn’t have a chance - he just stepped out in front of me.” These were the words uttered by a distraught motorist following a fatal accident on a Lincolnshire road on April 23 this year.

Sonia Marshall, retired owner of a Woodhall Spa residential home, had been at the wheel of a red Renault Scenic car when it was in collision with Robert Wilson as he was pushing his mountain bicycle along the West Fen Drainbank on the outskirts of Frithville.

Louth-born Mr Wilson, 74, of Tennyson Close, Boston, sustained multiple severe injuries to his chest and died soon afterwards in the Pilgrim Hospital.

At an inquest held in Spilsby on Thursday, the Assistant Coroner for Central Lincolnshire, Paul Smith, was read a statement by Charles Tait, one of the first on the scene, in which he recalled what a shocked Mrs Marshall had said to him at the roadside.

Mr Tait, a CCTV operator for Boston Borough Council, put his arm around Mrs Marshall, who was holding a wing mirror from the car, as he sought to comfort her.

In an interview at Boston Police Station following the accident, she said she had been driving along the road at about 30mph when she noticed ahead Mr Wilson pushing his cycle.

As she drove to the offside to give him plenty of clearance, he suddenly turned right, without looking, and walked straight into the path of the car.

Following the accident, she had noticed on the road a pair of binoculars making her think he may have been a birdwatcher.

There were no witnesses to the collision, but investigation officer PC Michelle Ford told the hearing there was no reason to doubt Mrs Marshall’s evidence, which tallied with the nature of scratches and other cycle damage sustained to the bonnet of her car.

Quizzed by the coroner, the officer was unable to offer an explanation why Mr Wilson, who was a single man with an adult son living in Norwich, might have been pushing, rather than riding his cycle - nor why he had stepped out in front of the car.

There were no tyre punctures or other defects with his machine. According to PC Ford, he had been an active cyclist who would think nothing of cycling from Boston to Lincoln in a single journey.

The coroner recorded a verdict that Mr Wilson, who was retired, had died as a consequence of a road accident.