An experienced motorcyclist died in a ‘freak accident’ during a race at the Culham motocross track.

Retained firefighter Stephen Angell, 61, who had competed at an ‘expert’ level as a younger man, came off the track during the Amateur Motor Cycle Association-run competition on the morning of June 12.

He struck an earth mound as he tried to re-join the track and was thrown from his bike, suffering fatal chest injuries.

Oxford Coroner’s Court heard that the Bath man was initially speaking to medics, although his breathing was laboured, before he lost consciousness. Despite the effort of paramedics and air ambulance doctors, he was pronounced dead at around 12.25pm.

At an inquest into his death, Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire Darren Salter said: “This is clearly a tragic incident to have occurred and very much unexpected. I understand Stephen was an experienced motocross rider and had been competing and involved in that scene for many, many years.”

Mr Salter said he did not like to use the phrase ‘freak accident’, but added it was ‘tragic’ that on this occasion it had resulted in the serious injuries that led to Mr Angell’s death.

The inquest heard that Mr Angell was an experienced motocross rider who had been involved in the sport for decades.

On the morning of his death he told his wife he was ‘not feeling it’, but competed in the race nonetheless.

One of the police officers called to the scene noted the rider who was following behind said Mr Angell was ‘very wobbly on his bike’.

Race marshal Ricky Smith said in a statement that he’d seen Mr Angell lose control of his bike in the air, causing him to veer off the track when he landed.

He tried to return to the race track at a place that, according to Mr Smith, was ‘not the easiest way’ to re-join.

The rider struck what was variously described as a drainage ditch or earthwork. He came off the bike and suffered significant chest injuries.

Mr Smith said he had known the crash victim for over 30 years and described him as a competent rider. He said: “There was nothing out of the ordinary at the event. I have been involved with motocross for 45 years and would consider this to be a freak accident.”

A post-mortem found that Mr Angell suffered significant chest injuries, including broken ribs and sternum.

The coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

In a tribute issued after his death, Mr Angell’s family described him as a ‘quiet man with a wicked sense of humour’. He had been a firefighter with Avon Fire and Rescue Service for 33 years and was a watch manager at Bath fire station.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.