Talented cyclist who died in Dundry Hill crash 'simply took bend too fast'
A talented teenage cyclist who dreamed of becoming the next Bradley Wiggins died after he took a corner too fast and was thrown from his bike, an inquest heard yesterday.
Raj Soni, 18, idolised the Tour de France winner and hoped to follow his hero into a professional career.
But he lost control of his bike at up to 40mph on a notorious steep bend during a training ride and slammed into a stone pillar.
Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital three days later.
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The inquest at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, heard how Raj had ridden down the steep hill at Dundry, Somerset, hundreds of times before.
But at 5.10pm on July 30 he took a right-hand bend too fast and lost control, causing him to mount the pavement and strike his head on a concrete pillar.
He then “pivoted” around the pillar and came to rest just a few metres away.
Susan Flower, who lives in a house on the corner of the road, said she had noticed the cyclist riding down the hill “visibly faster” than riders she normally saw.
In a statement read to the court she said: “I saw a sports cyclist coming down the hill approaching the bend at a high speed.
“He was only in my view for a few seconds and then I heard a crash, so I knew he must have crashed.
“From the speed I knew it would be a serious crash so I was there within seconds and phoned an ambulance.
“He was laying in the foetal position bleeding very heavily from is head, ears, mouth and nose. He was totally motionless. I was fairly confident he was already dead.”
The bend is known for crashes and cyclists often came off their bikes after misjudging the corner.
Jean Blewitt, who drove past Raj only seconds before he crashed, said she had also noticed the high speed of the cyclist and had remarked to her husband “blimey he is going at a hell of a speed”.
Raj, of Bower Ashton near Bristol, was rushed to Frenchay Hospital where his parents and sister Krishna, 20, rushed to his bedside. But his life-support machine was switched off three days later on August 2.
Collision investigator PC Andrew Grigg said that he believed Raj’s speed had been the main contributing factor to the accident.
He said the keen cyclist, who had joined the Bristol Cycling Development Squad (BCDS) when he was 11, could have been travelling at 40mph.
Terence Moore, assistant deputy coroner, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: “Mr Soni is described as an experienced rider and someone who was clearly well equipped in terms of his gear, his helmet and the bicycle itself.
“He simply misjudged the bend in terms of speed.
Speaking after his death, Raj’s mother Sue said: “Raj was simply a lovely human being – we have been amazed at how he has touched so many lives with his smile.”