Words by Jack Beavis
Two motorists have been cleared of causing a cyclist’s death after the court heard how they were “blinded by the sun”.
Cyclist Stan Coates, 55, had been knocked off his bike by Michael Elton, 25, who was waiting for an ambulance with Coates when the cyclist was struck by a second car and dragged along the road. Mr Coates died in hospital the next day due to multiple injuries sustained during the incident in October 26, 2012.
Both Mr Elton and Edward Peeverly, 21, the driver of the second vehicle were acquitted of casing death by dangerous driving by the jury at Newcastle Crown Court, although Mr Elton was convicted of the lesser offence of careless driving.
He was fined £400 and ordered to pay £600 costs as well as having five points endorsed on his licence.
The original collision happened when Mr Elton was travelling home from work in his Vauxhall Corsa shortly after 4pm.
At the scene, he told police: “I was coming up the hill and the sun was facing directly towards me.
“I couldn’t see anybody in the road until the last second. I basically heard a thud and saw something.
“I immediately braked and stopped and it was only when I got out of the car that I realised I had hit a cyclist.
“I went over to talk to him, he was conscious and talking and leaning on his bike at the side of the road.”
Accident investigators believe that Mr Elton was travelling at up to 50mph on the 60mph stretch of Burdon Lane, Sunderland, according to the Sunderland Echo.
After ringing the ambulance for Mr Coates, who had injured his knee and wrist, the two were exchanging details when Mr Peeverly’s Vauxhall Corsa crashed into them.
Mr Peeverly said he was doing between 30 and 40mph at the time of accident. He added: “I started to slow down because of the car and because the sun was shining over the top of the hill. I had the sun visor down but it was still difficult to see.”
Prosecutors argued that both drivers failed to take appropriate steps to make driving in the conditions safe.
Philip Thompson of Thompson and Co solicitors, said on behalf of Mr Coates’ family: “The Coates family remains understandably devastated by the events of October 26, 2012.
“The ongoing criminal case has meant the family has had to wait for two years to receive any information about how Mr Coates died.
“However, the Coates family are pleased to have had the opportunity to build a picture of the events that led to Mr Coates’ death and to fully understand what happened that day.
“The family was also grateful to discover that the incident did not occur because of anything Mr Coates did – he was a completely blameless victim.”
The AA say that on average 3,900 people are injured and 28 killed each year in road traffic accidents where the sun inhibits motorists’ vision.