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Inquest hears how cyclist died after crashing into back of lorry

Banker told police before he died that he had put his head down and not seen HGV

09 November, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Jerome Roussel

A FATHER-OF-FOUR who died after crashing into the back of a stationary lorry in King’s Cross was cycling with his head down and had not seen the vehicle until it was too late, an inquest heard yesterday (Wednesday).

Banker Jerome Roussel, 51, told police officers the crash had been his fault after he cycled into the 50ft HGV in Pentonville Road in May. A keen cyclist and triathlete, Mr Roussel was cycling north at a speed of 15-20mph when he suffered a serious spinal injury, Poplar Coroner’s Court heard. Paramedics did not immediately realise the seriousness of his injuries.

He was sent to University College Hospital, where a scan revealed he had fractured his neck. He was then sent to the major trauma centre at Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel.

Lorry driver Stephen Swanson had been delivering bricks to an electricity sub-station being built just off Calshot Street when the accident occurred.  He had stopped his truck in the cycle lane and switched on hazard lights as he was about to plan how he would reverse into the narrow street from Pentonville Road.

“I was getting out of the truck and I heard a bang,” he told the inquest. “I thought it might’ve been a bomb. “I went to the back of the vehicle to see what was happening and there was a cyclist.”

Mr Roussel, who lived in Notting Hill with his wife and children, was briefly unconscious but came round, though he had lost sensation in his legs. “There was no visible damage to him. He didn’t seem badly hurt,” Mr Swanson added.

According to statements from police officers, Mr Roussel had said: “I put my head down and went for it. I did not see the lorry and went into the back of it.”

No criminal charges have been brought following the accident. Syed Aftab, a consultant surgeon at Royal London Hospital, said that Mr Roussel suffered severe damage to his spine.

“A high energy injury does not have to happen at 110mph. These are not big bones,” he said. “This was a perfect storm of force and angulation.” Mr Aftab said he was “satisfied that the operation had gone well”.

But over the next few weeks Mr Roussel’s condition deteriorated when he suffered an E coli infection which made its way to his brain. “After that it was just a slow, painful battle against the infection that had set in,” said Dr Aftab. Mr Roussel died seven weeks after the accident.

Coroner Mary Hassell said: “Jerome was just cycling along. He was going fairly fast. He was a fit man, and had his head down and just didn’t see the back of the lorry.”

A verdict of death by road traffic was collision was recorded.

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