Ladywell scooter rider died after being 'sucked under' Forest Hill lorry

News Shopper: The junction of London Road and Sydenham Rise (Pic from Google Maps) The junction of London Road and Sydenham Rise (Pic from Google Maps)

A Ladywell motorcyclist who was listening to music on her iPod was "sucked underneath" a lorry and crushed as it made a left hand turn at a Forest Hill junction, an inquest heard today (April 15).

Swimming teacher Lidia Zoetemelk, of Chudleigh Road, Ladywell, was riding her scooter along London Road on her way to work in Chiswick last May when the tragic accident happened.

The 41-year-old Dutch national, who regularly used her scooter, had been seen driving down the middle of a bus lane and was carrying straight on down London Road when she was struck by a lorry turning left from the outer lane into Sydenham Rise.

Off duty policewoman Vicky Vincent said in a statement read to Southwark Coroners' Court that Ms Zoetemelk and her scooter were "sucked underneath" the lorry as it continued turning.

She told the court she expected an accident, saying: "Just because of the way that the vehicles were positioned, there wasn't really any other outcome."

Colin McNally, a lorry driver for 28 years, had been travelling from Deptford to Epsom when his HGV collided with Ms Zoetemelk.

He told the inquest that he had checked all six of his mirrors and indicated before making the turn, straddling the left and right lanes to give his vehicle enough space to make the manoeuvre - but he never saw the motorcyclist.

On turning left, he heard "a scraping noise". He stopped in Sydenham Rise, climbed out of his cab and was "shocked" to see what had happened.

He told the court: "I can't see anything what I could do different."

Mr McNally added: "I just apologise for what's happened."

Accident investigator PC Andrew Smith told coroner Dr Andrew Harris that there was a "tiny" blind spot on the left hand side of the lorry which could have meant the scooter-rider was not visible.

And he said Ms Zoetemelk had been listening to music from her iPod at the time of the accident, which may have stopped her hearing the large lorry.

Dr Harris recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by chest injuries.

He said: "Clearly Ms Zoetemelk made the decision he was driving straight on, however, she may have falsely placed herself closer to the vehicle than may have been wise."

And he said of her earphones: "I think this is likely to have been a factor which has contributed to this tragedy."

Speaking afterwards, Amy Aeron-Thomas from the Roadpeace support charity, which has been helping Ms Zoetemelk's partner, said: "People think that these things are only a problem for cyclists but pedestrians and motorists are also vulnerable to lorries.

"I blind spot contributed to the collision but in this day and age, that can be designed out."

Comments (1)

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4:11pm Tue 15 Apr 14

Not-a-hamster says...

I don't understand the relevance of the iPod in this story. If she was travelling in the same direction of the lorry, with Ms Zoetemelk in the bus lane and the lorry turning left from the outer lane, surely not seeing the lorry would be a bigger question to ask than not hearing it.

I'm a motorcyclist myself and regularly travel listening to music or with ear plugs in as wind noise in a helmet is not fun and can cause damage to hearing. No amount of music is going to visually hide the presence of a lorry slowing and positioning to turn left in front of you.
I don't understand the relevance of the iPod in this story. If she was travelling in the same direction of the lorry, with Ms Zoetemelk in the bus lane and the lorry turning left from the outer lane, surely not seeing the lorry would be a bigger question to ask than not hearing it. I'm a motorcyclist myself and regularly travel listening to music or with ear plugs in as wind noise in a helmet is not fun and can cause damage to hearing. No amount of music is going to visually hide the presence of a lorry slowing and positioning to turn left in front of you. Not-a-hamster
  • Score: 4

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