Inquest – Lymington Triathlon Club member Neil Carden died after hitting pothole 'trench' in Woodlands Road, Ashurst
A CYCLIST told an inquest how he saw his friend hit a giant pothole in the road before a fatal fall on a ride in the New Forest.
Neil Carden (64), a father of two, died four days after the accident in Woodlands Road, Ashurst, on 7th October last year.
Hampshire County Council, the highways authority, said the defect, described by witnesses as a "trench" more than a metre long, had been repeatedly repaired.
Friend Maurizio Malpiedi told how he, Mr Carden and four other friends, all members of Lymington Triathlon Club, had been riding in single file on a "beautiful day” when the incident happened.
In a statement read at Winchester Coroners' Court, Mr Malpiedi described how the lead cyclist had spotted a pothole in the road and had signalled to the others to avoid it.
He said: “Neil must have been distracted or looking elsewhere as he hit the pothole.
“The bike just started to snake and weave around. He was trying to get his hands on the bike bars, but he fell quite heavily.”
Mr Malpiedi said he went to help Mr Carden who had hit his head badly on the road, splitting his helmet.
He said: “I was on my knees holding him, his eyes were open, but he wasn’t responsive.
“He started to stop breathing then he came back and gasped for breath.”
Paramedics were on the scene within five minutes, the inquest heard. Mr Carden, from Woodside Lane, Lymington, was transferred to Southampton General Hospital where scans showed he had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
He died four days later with wife Clare, son Chris and daughter Bethan with him.
Mr Malpiedi told senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson how a GPS device showed the group were travelling at 22mph when the accident happened.
He said: “We were just enjoying the sunshine and the road; we weren’t doing anything dangerous.”
Lead cyclist on the day John Paulson told how the pothole they came across was "almost a trench in the middle of the carriageway”.
Photos showed it to be about 1.5 metres long and 30-40cm wide.
Reports from HCC showed that the hole had first been reported in March last year and subsequently repaired.
It was regularly inspected and in August it was noted to be appearing again. It was repaired again in May this year.
Coroner Mr Wilkinson said: “I hope this is something that will remain on their horizon. They have done their best to address the issue.”
Ruling Mr Carden’s death an accident, the coroner commended his friends for doing everything they could to help him.
Earlier in proceedings Mr Wilkinson had become emotional while reading out a statement from Mr Carden’s widow who had known her husband since she was 14.
His voice broke as he read her description of him as “the most special person. Honest, loving, dependable, he was unbelievably proud of the children”.
Mrs Carden's statement added how she still imagined her husband “sitting on a stool at the kitchen island, laying on a bed in the garden" and “beaming at the end of a ride”.