The lorry driver who collided with Esther Hartsilver as she cycled to work at King’s College Hospital has described the junction where it happened as “an accident waiting to happen”.
The 32-year-old King’s College Hospital physiotherapist was hit by a lorry and killed on May 28, 2015.
Today, an inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court was presided over by the coroner, Sarah Ormond-Walshe.
The driver of the 40-foot Co-op lorry, Philip Beadle, was driving southbound in Denmark Hill, and tried to turn left onto Orpheus Street, before making a delivery in Coldharbour Lane.
Experienced cyclist Ms Hartsilver was travelling through a bus lane on Mr Beadle’s left, aiming to continue down Denmark Hill to the hospital.
Mr Beadle told the inquest he failed to spot Ms Hartsilver on his left side as he turned, which required him to cross into the bus lane.
Ms Hartsilver was crushed under the lorry’s left-rear wheel. The Coroner’s pathologist confirmed the cause of death as multiple injuries.
Mr Beadle was cleared of causing death by careless driving at Blackfriars Crown Court last year.
He told the inquest that the one-way route linking Denmark Hill to his destination in Coldharbour Lane was a junction “he had not done before; it was the first time I had done that junction”.
He said he started work at 5.30am that morning, and was making his fourth delivery of the day, having stopped in Bermondsey.
Mr Beadle said: “I checked my mirrors and indicated and didn’t see anything at all.
“When I turned into the corner I heard a metal noise and I heard a scream and a bump.
“It happened in a matter of seconds.
“I stopped straight away and I thought maybe I had hit a railing. I went to the back of the lorry and saw Ms Hartsilver in the middle of the road.”
Mr Beadle added: “I think that in my experience it’s just an accident waiting to happen.
“The road network of London roads is so close-knit anyway, with everybody trying to get to one place.
“To get junctions that you come into conflict, even more so. They shouldn’t be there.”
The inquest heard that a 999 call was made at 8am, and an ambulance arrived at 8.06am. Medics attempted an open-heart massage to keep her alive at the side of the road, before she arrived at the operating theatre shortly before 9am.
Ms Hartsilver was operated on by Dr Duncan Bew, a consultant in major trauma.
A statement from Dr Bew was read by Ms Ormond-Walshe, in which he said he “immediately recognised” Ms Hartsilver as a colleague.
Ms Hartsilver had suffered injuries to her pelvis, groin, and hip.
Dr Bew performed a catalogue of complex procedures while trying to maintain her heartbeat with cardiac massages.
Despite their “quite extraordinary efforts” to save her, she was declared dead at 3pm – six hours after she was taken to the operating theatre.
Ms Ormond-Walshe also read a statement from Ms Hartsilver’s sister, Emma, which said: “We were all devastated by the loss of our sister.
“So many people have been involved in the incident and what has happened subsequently.
“I earnestly hope some good can come from her death by helping to reduce deaths on roads.”
Emma Hartsilver wrote that her sister “regularly commuted by road in London and wore a helmet and cycling gear at all times”.
One month before her death, Ms Hartsilver has been nominated for a Bravery Award by St John Ambulance, after she stopped on her way to work to help save the life of a man suffering from a cardiac arrest.
Ms Hartsilver had also been coming to terms with the loss of her father in January, who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
Emma Hartsilver wrote that her sister “was happy” and had “looked forward to the future”.
She said Ms Hartsilver had completed charity bike rides, including from London to Paris, and events in Europe.
Ms Ormond-Walshe said she was holding the inquest to determine whether she should write a ‘prevention of future deaths report’. Officials from Transport for London and Southwark council were called to give evidence.
Ms Ormond-Walshe concluded todays’ inquest in two parts.
First, she said: “As the lorry moved to turn left, it came into collision with Ms Hartsilver… despite extraordinary efforts of her colleagues, she could not be saved, she died approximately six hours after her arrival [at hospital].
“I am returning a conclusion of RTC [road traffic collision].”
Secondly, she said: “I believe there is a risk to future deaths that could occur unless action is taken.”
Ms Ormond-Walshe then urged Transport for London and Southwark Council to consider making short-term and long-term alteration to the junction.