A SUPER-FIT cyclist who was due to be married was killed when a careless van driver failed to see her as she rode to work, a court heard.
Elizabeth Brown – an experienced rider and triathlete known to her loved ones as Liz – was pedaling along the A189 Spine Road near Cramlington, Northumberland, when she was hit.
Miss Brown, who was engaged and just days away from her 44th birthday, was on her way to Wansbeck General Hospital where she worked in the physiotherapy unit. She was wearing high-visibility clothing as well as a visored helmet and had reflectors fitted to her cycle.
But as she rode down the inside lane of the dual carriageway past a slip road, Daniel Mackay’s transit van hit her from behind at an estimated 60mph, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Michael Hodson, prosecuting, said: “Elizabeth Brown was knocked off her bicycle, thrown through the air and was killed virtually instantaneously on hitting the ground.
“The defence wants me to make it clear to everybody there is no blame whatsoever placed on anything she did or was or was not wearing.”
Mackay was heading to his work in Bedlington and taking the slip road when the accident happened at 7.15am on April 13 last year.
The 23-year-old from Cross Street, Houghton-le-Spring, had no traces of either drink or drugs in his system, the court heard, and his van had not been exceeding the speed limit. But by failing to see Miss Brown on the straight stretch of road, his driving fell below the standard expected of a careful and competent motorist, Mr Hodson said.
He told jurors: “The weather was fine, the visibility was very good and it was a bright sunny morning.
“Neither the transit or the cycle had any defects that caused the accident.”
Mackay told other people minutes after the accident he had “never seen” Miss Brown.
He later told police he had been travelling two-and-a-half to four transit lengths behind another van just before the impact.
Mr Hodson said: “Asked what he thought the stopping distance at 60mph was, he put it was about 18 metres, not the 73 metres required in the Highway Code.
“He was effectively saying he was following normally a van in front with plenty of room to see.
“The prosecution case is that if you think that is right then he was far too close to the van to take avoiding action.”
Miss Brown suffered a tear to the main aorta artery in her chest when she hit the ground, the court heard.
After her death, her family released a statement in which they said she would be “sorely missed by her friends, colleagues and her close-knit Tyneside family”.
She was educated at Newcastle Church High School and Manchester University, and had worked in Australia before joining the physiotherapy unit at Wansbeck Hospital. Outside of work she enjoyed activities including cycling, canoeing, winter sports and reading.
Mackay denies causing death by careless driving and his trial continues.