Driver in crash that killed cyclist ‘failed to check blind spot’

MHBG-14-07-11 Judith Hitchings
MHBG-14-07-11 Judith Hitchings

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A CYCLIST died after being hit by a bus because the driver failed to check his blind spot, a court heard.

Peter Levesque was driving a single-decker Stagecoach bus in Pier Road, Southsea, when it hit Judith Hitchings on a roundabout near Clarence Pier.

Ms Hitchings, who was not wearing a helmet at the time, was thrown from her bike into the road.

The 55-year-old, from Brackley in Northamptonshire, who was staying in Southsea at the time, was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital with multiple skull fractures and she later died.

Daniel Sawyer, prosecuting at Portsmouth Crown Court, said: ‘She was staying at Eastern Parade in Southsea.

‘She rode along the seafront and in due course she got to the area Clarence Parade.

‘There is a roundabout at Clarence Parade and Ms Hitchings started to go around that roundabout.

‘Coming south on Pier Road towards the seafront was a single-decker Stagecoach bus being driven by the defendant.

‘He got to the roundabout, he didn’t see Ms Hitchings on the roundabout, he drove onto it, he hit her.

‘She was knocked off her bike, suffered multiple fractures to the skull and subsequently died of her head injuries.’

He added: ‘Ultimately why didn’t he see her? The short answer is that the bus has a blind spot.’

A 12-strong jury heard the bus was running late when the accident happened at shortly before 2pm on July 17 last year.

But Levesque, 54, of Rothwell Close, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, had decided to skip part of his route to make up time.

The bus is thought to have been travelling at between 15mph and 20mph at the time of the crash.

Mr Sawyer added: ‘This is a case of careless driving, but no-one is saying Mr Levesque was driving like a maniac that day.

‘It was not an undue speed.

‘He was quite capable of making the manoeuvre onto the roundabout – but he didn’t see Ms Hitchings.’

Describing Levesque being quizzed by police, Mr Sawyer said: ‘It was confirmed with him, you have been driving that bus for over a year, you are a professional bus driver, you know about the blind spot, why didn’t you see that cyclist?

‘What he said was “a momentary lapse”.’

Mr Sawyer added: ‘He came to the roundabout, he had a lapse and he didn’t check or didn’t check well enough, the blind spot. Resultingly he hit Ms Hitchings and knocked her off.’

Levesque denies one count of causing death by careless driving.

(Proceeding)