Fatal incident 1 March 2016 Weybridge Road, Weybridge, Surrey

Last updated 23 February 2017
At T-junction, Weybridge Road, Weybridge, Surrey (show full map)
Casualties Ralph Brazier, 52 (fatality)
Time of incident 7:56pm, 1 March 2016
Vehicles involved Pedal cycle
Incident factors Pothole
Police details Surrey, incident P16047500

Died as a result of hitting a large pothole while on a group ride.

The pothole appears to be one which had been reported on CTC’s Fill That Hole site, which passes details to the relevant highway authority (in this case Surrey County Council), in 2009. It was allegedly repaired in 2014 but disintegrated. It was filled again shortly after Mr Brazier’s death.

Surrey Police have launched an investigation in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive. A Surrey County Council spokesman said, “Weybridge Road has been resurfaced in the last 18 months and it is important we now wait for the outcome of the investigation into what happened.”

At the opening of inquest into Brazier’s death, in December 2016, Surrey Council’s legal representative said that “to suggest there was a real and immediate risk to life cannot be borne out in evidence.”

In February 2017 the inquest, held by assistant coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks, heard that two recent repairs had been made to the road following the submission of a report by a resident on February 25.

On February 28, contractor Kier had made a temporary repair during which the drain was covered with tarmac. During a second, permanent repair on February 12, the drain cover was refitted incorrectly such that the grille ran parallel to the road, causing particular risk for bicycle wheels. County council engineer David Ellis told the court, “my thoughts are that the gully being incorrectly orientated would lead to a permanent failing; it would suggest the orientation had something to do with the failing of the reinstatement.”

Ellis’s report following the incident found that the drainage system was blocked in multiple places (which seems presumably related to an initial treatment of simply tarmacking over the drain) and, due to the incorrect alignment, there were no flanges at the offside part of the drain gully, leading to accelerated damage at its point of greatest wear. (This position is where the large hole appeared as can be seen in pictures in the media reports.)

Council safety defect manager Paul Wilson stated that the resulting hole was marked as a Priority 2 (P2) defect on February 25, meaning it was due for repair within five days of that date. (The fifth day was March 1, the day Brazier died.)

Engineer James Taylor, who had authored a report on behalf of Kier, told the inquest that the hole should have been a P1 or P2+ priority, requiring more urgent repair, due to the “high risk location”. However on cross examination he conceded that the hole fitted the P2 criteria.

The post mortem concluded that Brazier died of hyper-extension of the neck, with fracture and dislocation of the spine.

The inquest is ongoing.