Bristol

Cyclist Sean Phillips drowned in harbour fall, inquest told

  • 13 March 2014
  • From the section Bristol
Sean Phillips
Sean Phillips was seen to "suddenly lose balance" before falling in

A man died when he lost control of his mountain bike and fell into Bristol's Harbour, an inquest has been told.

Avon Coroner's Court heard the wheel on Sean Phillips' bike may have become trapped in rails in front of the M Shed museum on Prince's Wharf.

A post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of the 40-year-old father-of-two's death to be from drowning.

The Avon Coroner, Maria Voisin, reached a conclusion of accidental death.

Mr Phillips, who was born with fibular hemimelia, the same condition as athlete Oscar Pistorius, had been training for a 200-mile charity bike ride from Kent to Amsterdam.

'Heroic efforts'

The procurement manager was seen to suddenly lose balance on his mountain bike before plunging into the water.

Two members of the public quickly jumped in to rescue the charity fundraiser, but despite their "heroic efforts" he died at the scene.

The inquest heard Bristol City Council had been aware of concerns for the safety of cyclists - particularly regarding crane and rail tracks - for a decade.

Mrs Voisin said Mr Phillips' death had prompted a series of changes to make the harbourside safer.

Rescue in progress at Bristol docks
Sean Phillips was training for a charity cycle ride from Kent to Amsterdam

"It appears Mr Phillips was unconscious from the time he came off his bike. Despite the heroic efforts of members of the public in their attempts to resuscitate him, he sadly died," the coroner added.

The inquest heard a council risk assessment in May 2003 identified that cyclists were having accidents - some "quite serious" - on the quayside.

A formal risk assessment was not carried out again until June 2011. The report, with a further assessment in November 2011, recommended erecting safety barriers.

The November report warned: "It is a matter of time before an incident occurs".

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Phillips' partner Hayley Liddle, 43, said she hoped steps would be taken to prevent future accidents.

"Although nothing can bring Sean back we want to ensure that his death was not in vain and others do not suffer in future," Ms Liddle added.

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