Drink-driver jailed after he ran over 10-year-old cyclist and drove home with bike trapped underneath car

Driver Keith Vernon hit the victim, then reversed over him, causing serious injuries

The unattended car after the crash and (inset) driver Keith Vernon
(Image credit: Sussex Police )

A drink-driver has been jailed after he ran over a 10-year-old cyclist and then drove home with the bike still stripped under his car. 

Keith Vernon had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, after drinking at a local pub, when he drove his black Renault Twingo into the victim, who was cycling with his dad on a quiet residential street in West Sussex. 

After hitting the rider, causing the boy to flip over the handlebars onto the road, Vernon continued to drive over the victim.

Members of the public desperately tried to tell the driver that the boy was trapped beneath his vehicle, but he ignored their pleas, reversed over the boy and fled the scene. 

The young cyclist was left with multiple serious injuries, including a broken collarbone, fractured vertebrae, fractured pelvis, dislocated hip and a burn covering the left side of his face.

Police said the boy is now recovering from his injuries. 

In the UK, someone is killed or seriously injured every 20 minutes on the roads, according to safety charity Brake, with an average of 666 people killed in drink driving incidents each year. 

Keith Vernon

Keith Vernon 

(Image credit: Sussex Police)

Senior investigating officer with Sussex Police, Sergeant Richard Hornsey said: “Vernon was driving home after drinking in a local pub and was over the drink-drive limit when he collided with the cyclist. This was clearly a traumatic incident for those directly involved, but it has also affected the wider community.

“Vernon ignored the pleas of the bystanders, which included the child’s father, and they described the wheels of the car spinning as Vernon tried to drive away while the child and the bicycle were trapped underneath.

“The child was wearing a cycle helmet which received significant damage but protected him from a more serious head injury.

“Vernon drove for over a quarter of a mile through the village with the bicycle trapped under his car, but at no point did he stop to check if the cyclist was still underneath, which shows a complete disregard for the safety of other road users.”

The incident happened at around 10.20pm on October 6, 2020, on Church Street, West Chiltington. 

Following reports of the crash, police attended the address that the car was registered to and found it unattended after the driver mounted a curb, with the victim's bike still trapped underneath.

Vernon, 76, of Holly Close, West Chiltington, was breathalysed and was found to have 77mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35mcg. 

The driver was arrested and charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to stop at the scene of a crash.

On February 23, 2021 he pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on May 20 to two and a half years in prison, and was disqualified from driving for four and a half years.   

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Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.