Dagenham family campaign to reduce motorcyclist deaths after ‘committed family man’ died on A12 in Redbridge

John Harold died on January 10, 2017 when his motorcycle collided with a van near the A12 Redbridge

John Harold died on January 10, 2017 when his motorcycle collided with a van near the A12 Redbridge roundabout. - Credit: Archant

A widow is urging drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists after her husband from Dagenham died on his daily commute to work in Redbridge.

A coroner concluded that the death of John Harold, 52, from Padnall Road was due to an accident, Walthamstow Coroner’s Court was told on Friday, October 19.

The father-of-four and grandfather-of-six ran a window cleaning business and was on his way to work on January 10, 2017 when he collided with a Renault van driven by Patrick Ruler.

Mr Ruler told the court that he was unfamiliar with the junction and that he was on his way to inspect some furniture that had been dumped outside a block of flats in the area.

He had just come down the North Circular road and was about to turn right into Studley Drive at around 6.50am in the morning when the incident happened.

The A12 Eastern Avenue was heavily congested, but when a car in the outside lane and a lorry in the inside lane stopped, Mr Ruler saw a gap and an opportunity to turn into the road.

“I just saw the car stop and the lorry stop and I went across,” Mr Ruler told the court.

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“I didn’t see anything and then I heard a bang. I thought something had hit me. It was as though the whole van had gone sideways.

“I thought just get off the road and sort it out.”

Mr Ruler believed his vehicle had hit the lorry. He then ran over John, dragging him under the vehicle, as he made his way off the main road to pull over on Studley Drive.

When asked about his speed, Mr Ruler said: “I think a walking person could have kept up with me.”

He told the court that he was in first gear and probably going about five miles an hour.

Clive Austin, collision investigator, confirmed that the incident was a low speed collision.

“The lack of heavy damage confirms that this was a relatively low speed action,” Mr Austin told the court.

He explained that the cycle lane was clearly marked and that the highway code mentions the need for drivers to always look out when emerging from a junction as motorists can be approaching faster than they think.

Coroner Nadia Persaud concluded that the cause of death was compression to the chest and because the fatal injury occurred after the initial impact, she ruled John’s death an accident instead of recording it as the result of a road traffic collision.

David Harold, John’s brother, described him as a, “conscientious and reliable” man and a, “fun, loving family man who spent his weekends taking his family on trips or riding out to his parents for a cup of tea.

“John was an experienced motorist. He was not late for work and he left at a usual time.”

He added that the family wish to thank the emergency services for responding quickly to the incident.

Following his death, John’s family joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in campaigning to reduce the number of motorcyclists killed on London’s roads.

John’s widow Mandy said: “John was a much-loved and committed family man who loved us all so much and it is still hard to believe that he is gone.

“The last 18 months have been a real struggle for our family. I cannot believe all the plans and dreams we had to grow old together have gone.

“John was an experienced and careful rider who had been riding bikes since 2007.

“It is difficult not to feel that his death could have been avoided. Too many motorcyclists are needlessly dying. It is so important that drivers pay attention at all times. I wouldn’t wish any other family to have to go through what we have since John’s death.”

The London Assembly revealed earlier this year that one per cent of trips in the capital are made by motorcyclists, however they account to 27pc of people killed or injured on the roads.

“Through our work we often see the consequences of what can happen when vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, are involved in collisions,” said Peter Lorence, specialist road accident lawyer.

“We will continue to support John’s family at this emotional time and encourage drivers to be more aware of bikers at all times to help reduce casualty figures.”