Sunday, 11 May 2008

The killing of Antony Smith

Remember this from last month? The Evening Standard pointed the finger of blame at the dead cyclist:

A cyclist was killed when he was crushed under the wheels of a lorry, after apparently jumping a red light. The 30-year old died in the collision in Hackney yesterday morning. Witnesses said the cyclist had jumped a red light as he headed south in Kingsland Road and tried to ride around the lorry, which was pulling into the road from Middleton Road.

All I could find out about the episode I linked to here.

Now it seems the truth was more complicated and the cyclist was in no way to blame.

The family of a cyclist killed in a collision with a truck has called for heavy goods vehicles to be banned from London during the rush hour. Antony Smith, 37, was cycling to work when he was crushed by the tipper truck as it turned left into Kingsland Road, Hackney. Paramedics were sent to the scene, but Smith suffered head injuries and was dead by the time they arrived.

Smith, a graphic designer, was the fourth cyclist in the area to die after being hit by a lorry in the past two years. In a tragic irony, the truck and cyclist had been waved on by police officers carrying out a road-safety campaign moments before the collision.

Antony’s brother, Alistair Smith, 30, said today: ‘The truck was in the cycle lane and was warned by police and waved on. The cyclists were waved on before that and that’s how he accident was caused. Antony couldn’t see the truck indicating and the truck didn’t see Antony.’

(The London Paper, 30 April 2008, page five)

The circumstances of the collision still strike me as being a little hazy – does ‘The truck was in the cycle lane’ mean that the truck was in the Advanced Stop Line? By the sound of it the cyclist was wholly innocent and a police officer negligently beckoned forwards a cyclist and a left-turning lorry at the same time. And what on earth is that 'road-safety campaign' supposed to signify? I reckon there are still a lot of searching questions to be asked about this fatal incident. Let's hope the inquest will clarify matters.

Where did the Evening Standard get its information from? Was this an honest mistake by a Standard journalist or a calculated act of disinformation by the Met’s press office which was keen to shift the focus away from possible gross negligence by a police officer?

Sadly, the only new material I can now find on-line about this story is this.