Coroner records 'accidental death' conclusion after horrific crash in Derbyshire

The latest from our newsroom.
The latest from our newsroom.

A mother says she is 'not satisfied' following the conclusion of an inquest into her daughter’s death.

August Atkinson crashed into a dry stone wall at the bottom of Winnats Pass after cycling down the steep road while shouting 'my brakes have gone' to her friend.

Winnats Pass. Picture by Rob Bendall.

Winnats Pass. Picture by Rob Bendall.

The 22-year-old suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene near Speedwell Cavern on April 12, 2014 - just a month before she was due to complete her veterinary degree.

During the conclusion of Ms Atkinson's inquest at Chesterfield coroners' court on Tuesday, her mother Elizabeth Barber-Atkinson reaffirmed her belief that there was a problem with the bike's brakes.

However, coroner Peter Nieto recorded a conclusion of accidental death after police found there were 'no significant issues' with the brakes.

Mr Nieto said: "August's family considers that the model of brake calipers fitted to her bike were faulty in that they could have spontaneously and unintentionally opened in which case the brake blocks would not make contact with the wheel rims.

"They also consider that even if the safety levers on the calipers were just 3mm from the closed position the brakes would be ineffective.

"On the balance of probabilities, the court does not find that August's brakes were ineffective or not working due to a fault with her brake calipers because the police and vehicle examiner observed the callipers to be in the closed position when the bike was examined after the crash."

Mrs Barber-Atkinson said: "I feel the police evidence didn’t satisfactorily answer what may have gone wrong on the day in relation to August's bike.

"We're not satisfied with the outcome of the inquest."

She said she would consider seeking legal advice about challenging the decision - which she branded as 'totally unacceptable' in court.

Before Mr Nieto delivered his conclusion, the inquest heard Mrs Barber-Atkinson sent the coroner documents which included a statement from Andrew Elston, a qualified bike mechanic who works at Langsett Cycles in Sheffield.

He said he had to replace identical brakes to those on Ms Atkinson’s bike after another rider reported problems.

Mrs Barber-Atkinson also highlighted that bikers had used online cycling forums and blogs to raise concerns about the same type of brakes.

"My daughter was an experienced cyclist and was familiar with the Peak District and its terrain," she added.

"She was a sensible and level-headed person who was not a risk taker or someone who had lapses in concentration."

DC Andrew Prince, of Derbyshire Constabulary’s collision investigation unit, previously told the inquest 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."

Ms Atkinson lived in Church Street, Oughtibridge, Sheffield.