‘Multiple factors’ may have led to fatal crash in Derbyshire

Winnats Pass. Picture by Rob Bendall.
Winnats Pass. Picture by Rob Bendall.

‘Multiple factors’ may have been involved in a collision which claimed the life of a young cyclist in the Peak District, an inquest heard.

August Atkinson suffered fatal injuries when she hit a wall at the bottom of Winnats Pass after riding down the steep road.

The 22-year-old died just a month before completing her veterinary degree.

Giving evidence at Chesterfield coroners’ court today, Ms Atkinson’s friend Kieran Patel said she had owned a Genesis Equilibrium bike for eight months and had ‘only been out on it a few times’.

The pair decided to embark on a 25-mile route ride on April 12, 2014.

Before setting off, Mr Patel and Ms Atkinson’s father used hand pumps to inflate the tyres on her bike as ‘they needed some air’.

Ms Atkinson later noticed a problem with the front brake but this ‘corrected’, according to Mr Patel.

The pair ascended Winnats Pass, which is one of the steepest roads in the country. It was the first time they had ridden the route.

Mr Patel said: “The wind took it out of us - we were tired.

“August complained her legs were cramping.

“I guess we had a little bit of apprehension about going down Winnats Pass - but nothing major.

“Going down I was cycling in front - I was constantly using my brakes on and off.

“August was behind me, coming down steadily - my speedometer said I was going at about 20mph.

“Then, August came past me on the right-had side - she was getting faster; she must have been travelling at 30 to 40mph.

“She said ‘my brakes have gone’.

“She was freewheeling, she couldn’t stop.”

Ms Atkinson, of Church Street, Oughtibridge, Sheffield, collided with a dry stone wall near Speedwell Cavern and suffered extensive injuries.

Emergency services were called at around 3.45pm and she was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms Atkinson’s mother Elizabeth raised concerns about a fault with the bike’s brakes.

DC Andrew Prince, of Derbyshire Constabulary's collision investigation unit, concluded there were ‘no significant issues’ with the brakes but said the rear tyre was ‘significantly under-inflated’.

Trevor Jones, a vehicle examiner with the force, added: “I do believe the rear tyre wasn’t sufficiently inflated at the time of the incident.

“But my examination was made two to three days afterwards so it’s possible there was some pressure loss in that time.”

Collision investigator PC Ian Phillips said: “We can never pinpoint what caused August to lose control.

“There are multiple issues.

“Winnats Pass is one of the steepest roads in the UK.

“She may have been affected by tiredness.

“The brakes may have overheated, increasing her stopping distance

“The under-inflated tyre may have affected her ability to control the bike.

“Something affected her ability to bring the bike to a safe speed.

“We don’t know exactly what happened.”

Coroner Peter Nieto said: “There were a number of factors which could have been involved in August’s tragic collision on Winnats Pass.”

He will conclude the inquest at a later date.