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Cyclist calls for greater care from drivers on country roads after serious injury

73-year-old man seriously injured in collision calls for drivers to take greater care on country roads after driver found guilty of driving without due care and attention

Posted on 23 March 2018

A keen cyclist and grandfather who narrowly escaped with his life after a car collided with him and another rider has spoken out and said there is an urgent need for motorists to take extra care on country roads after the driver that struck him was found guilty of driving without due care and attention.

David Herbert (73), who was severely injured in the collision and was in a coma for two weeks, was speaking after Louis Makepeace (20), from Fishburn, was found guilty following a trial at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court in County Durham on the 23 March.

Mr Makepeace was issued with a fine of £950 and six penalty points were added to his licence.

Mr Herbert, who served as the Secretary of Hartlepool Cycling Club for over twenty years, suffered a bleed on the brain and multiple orthopaedic injuries in the collision.

Speaking after the trial, he said:

“This entirely avoidable collision continues to have a devastating impact on my life and, while I take no pleasure in seeing anyone found guilty of a crime, I believe this judgment sends the right message that the manner of driving leading to the collision with me and my friend was far below the required standard. There are so many drivers that need to take more care when they get behind the wheel.

“I am a car driver and this is not a ‘them and us’ situation, it is about being careful and taking an extra look to make sure the road is clear.”

The collision occurred last July around 8pm when Mr Herbert and two other friends were cycling home from a local cycling club meeting along the A689.

Two of the cyclists including Mr Herbert were struck by a black coloured Ford Fiesta, driven by Louis Makepeace, as he turned right across their carriageway to enter Butterwick Road. Mr Herbert, who was the lead rider of the group, was thrown high into the air by the impact, breaking the windscreen of the Fiesta before being thrown into the road.

The second cyclist in the group was also unable to avoid a collision and collided with the rear of the Fiesta before falling to the ground and also sustaining injury. At the time of the collision the weather was clear and bright and all three cyclists had been travelling in single file and wearing brightly coloured cycling clothing.

As a result of the collision, Mr Herbert suffered a number of severe and life threatening injuries which required over 11 hours of emergency surgery and included a head injury, multiple breaks to his right leg, a fractured spine and a number of broken ribs.

He has subsequently undergone further surgery, the most recent being completed just last month, but despite this Mr Herbert was determined to be at court to provide evidence at the trial.

Speaking about how profoundly he has been affected by the incident Mr Herbert, who was still competitively racing on his bike in his seventies, said:

“I have always loved cycling from a very young age and the fact that I can no longer get out on my bike is an enormous personal loss to me. It is devastating knowing that I may never again be able to pop out with my cycling friends and feel the wind in my face and that brilliant sense of freedom that any cyclist knows only too well. The physical injuries I have sustained are severe and impact greatly on my day-to-day life.

“I also feel quite strongly about the fact I have had to struggle to court to give evidence at a trial that I believe should not be taking place. I am told the driver of the vehicle was very remorseful at the scene and it seemed very clear cut in terms of where the fault lies.

“I don’t know if the initial refusal to plead guilty was in the hope of employing a solicitor to see if they could get off through a legal technicality, but this seems very underhand to me given the circumstances.”

As a British Cycling member Mr Herbert was referred to law firm Leigh Day who are now representing him in a civil case.

Rachel Botterill, the Associate Solicitor at Leigh Day who is representing Mr Herbert, said: “We are pleased this case has now resulted in a guilty verdict but we and our client remain frustrated by the driver’s refusal to accept responsibility for this incident which has resulted in the criminal proceedings being drawn out and necessitating our client struggling to get to court in ill health to provide evidence in the case.

“My role is to now ensure that Mr Herbert gains justice via the civil law system so he can continue with his recovery and rehabilitation and is able to continue to live as full a life as possible.”