Safety plea after death of cyclist

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A coroner is to press highway bosses to take action over the safety of a narrow footpath after a nurse who fell off her bike was killed by a passing car.

Sarah Burwell, 40, lost control of her motorised pedal bike as she rode on the path under the railway bridge in Rothwell Road, Kettering, on a summer evening last year.

As the Russell Street resident tried to regain her balance on the narrow stretch she fell into the road and was hit by a passing Ford Fiesta.

She died hours later after suffering a fractured spine and broken ribs.

In Kettering yesterday, Anne Pember ruled Miss Burwell’s death as accidental and cleared motorist Kayleigh Gee of any blame.

But she said she would call on the relevant highway bosses to ask if anything could be done to improve the safety of the 97 cm-wide footpath.

She said: “If another life could be saved then any action taken would be worthwhile.”

The hearing also heard from Miss Burwell’s partner Neal Campbell, who asked if railings could be introduced along the path.

He pointed to a narrow path under a railway bridge in Northampton Road just half a mile down the track where railings did exist.

He said: “I observed the other day a little one in front of an adult on a bicycle go under the bridge and he was riding a bit wobbly.

“I would hate for any other accident to occur.”

The hearing heard how Miss Burwell had been cycling with her sister Helen Plowman from the hospital when the incident happened.

They turned right down Rothwell Road from the hospital’s staff entrance, crossed the pelican crossing before cycling in single file under the bridge where the path narrowed.

Mrs Plowman said: “I saw her cycle begin to wobble and her front wheel went off the footpath and into the road.

“I saw her try to stop it but the back wheel came off the path and she went tumbling into the road.”

Miss Burwell fell right into the path of Ms Gee’s car and despite managing to swerve slightly, she had no time to get out of the way.

Mrs Plowman said: “I would like to say the car driver was not at fault for this tragic collision.

“It happened because there was nothing to stop Sarah’s wheels dropping off the footpath and on to the road and the footpath is so narrow.”

Miss Burwell was born and grew up in the town, attending Park Infants School and Montagu School and then doing a nursing course at Tresham College.

She trained at Kettering General Hospital before joining the hospital’s staff team, remaining for 18 years in a variety of nursing roles.

Yesterday, the hospital’s chief executive Lorene Read paid tribute to her, describing her contribution as ‘immense’.