Crash cyclist’s bike ‘overloaded’ with 80 phone books

Sheriff said Sheila Hyslop had been going too fast. Picture: Press Team Scotland
Sheriff said Sheila Hyslop had been going too fast. Picture: Press Team Scotland
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A CYCLIST who died after falling from her bicycle was carrying 80 phone books when she lost control after hitting a speed bump, an inquiry has heard.

Sheila Hyslop, 50, struck her head and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident.

Paramedic crews took her to hospital where she was put on a life support machine as doctors battled to save her. But she died four days later in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.

After a three-day fatal accident inquiry, a sheriff has ruled that the bicycle was overloaded and that Ms Hyslop, from Dumfries, had been going too fast down a hill.

The inquiry had heard the brakes on the bike were not roadworthy and that Ms Hyslop had not been wearing a helmet when the crash happened in March last year.

Sheriff Robert Weir, QC, said the death could have been avoided had she taken “reasonable precautions” before going out to deliver the phone books.

The inquiry, at Dumfries Sheriff Court, looked at whether a pothole could have contributed to the accident in the town’s Albert Road.

Melanie McGill told the hearing she had spotted a pothole in December 2013 and reported it in February last year.

The pothole was not repaired until the day after the accident happened.

However Sheriff Weir ruled there was “no evidence” it had played any part.

In a written judgment, he said: “The cause of death was traumatic brain injury when she lost control and fell from her overloaded bicycle.

“It is my conclusion that the accident was probably caused by Ms Hyslop reaching the bottom of the hill at speed which proved to be too great for her to be able to maintain control of the bike with its load.

“I conclude that the bicycle was overloaded to the point where Ms Hyslop’s ability to ride it safely over the speed bump was undermined and if the load had been reduced, there’s a possibility the accident could have been avoided.”

Ms Hyslop was born and raised in Dumfries but had lived in Edinburgh and the United States – where she worked at an animal sanctuary – for many years before returning to the town.

A popular member of Dumfries Musical Theatre Company, friends there were distraught to hear the news of her death.

One said: “Sheila was a fantastic lady, full of fun and a pleasure to watch on stage. It is unbelievably sad.”

Another said: “She was beautiful inside and out, and I was so happy to have known her.”

Ms Hyslop was survived by a brother, who lives in London.