A crane driver told an inquest that he had not seen cyclist Jennifer Wong before the collision that claimed her life.

The 32-year-old was riding her BTwin Triban bicycle towards Headington at around 9.55am on Sunday, September 26 last year when she was swept beneath the Kato City mobile crane.

The driver of the mobile crane, Gary Hicks, told Oxford Coroner’s Court this morning that he had checked his left-hand mirror as he turned left onto Headley Way from Headington Road.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to Jennifer Wong after fatal Headington crash

Speaking via a video link, he told senior coroner Darren Salter: “I couldn’t see no one.”

Ms Wong, a personal assistant to Oxford Brookes pro-vice chancellor Prof Linda King, suffered multiple injuries – with pathologist Prof Ian Roberts concluding that she would have died instantly.

Despite the efforts by an off-duty paramedic and other bystanders to resuscitate her, her injuries were deemed un-survivable and an air ambulance doctor pronounced her death at 10.03am.

Oxford Mail: Jennifer Wong, who died when her bicycle was involved in a crash with a crane Picture: TVPJennifer Wong, who died when her bicycle was involved in a crash with a crane Picture: TVP

A police collision investigation report noted that it was ‘uncertain’ whether the crane driver had ‘actually viewed the nearside mirror’ or for how long Ms Wong had been in a ‘viewable position’.

Witnesses described Ms Wong as being alongside the crane, near its front wheel. One man, who was in a car waiting at the Headley Way lights and described himself as a keen cyclist, said he would ‘never put my bike there’.

The police noted that the layout of the road, where cyclists were able to use the nearside lane to go straight ahead while vehicles could only turn left, resulted in ‘vulnerable’ road users coming into ‘direct conflict’ with drivers.

This afternoon, coroner Mr Salter recorded a conclusion of death following a road traffic collision.

He announced his intention of writing to both Oxfordshire County Council, to express concerns about the road layout at the junction, and communicating his concerns about the lack of ‘close proximity mirrors’ on HGVs of the type involved in the crash.

Oxford Mail: The scene of the crash in Headley Way, Headington The scene of the crash in Headley Way, Headington

Mr Salter told Ms Wong’s mother, Sandy, who had joined the inquest via video link: “We can’t change things, as I’ve said. I’m very sorry about the loss of Jennifer in these circumstances.

“But if there are some further steps that can be made to help reduce the chance of this happening again, then at least that is one thing that is positive that might come from this tragic incident.”

The inquest heard Mr Hicks was driving from Bristol, where his employers were based, to drop the crane off at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He was in no rush and had completed longer journeys in the past.

Mr Hicks said he had been driving cranes since he was 17-years-old and had worked for JP Crane Hire for ’20 odd years’.

He remembered pulling out to pass a cyclist – although there was no evidence to say it was Ms Wong – further up Headington Road. When he arrived at the cross-roads the lights were on red and there was not cyclist in front of him. He stopped ahead of the lights and did not cross into the ‘cycle box’, he confirmed.

Mr Hicks told the inquest he had indicated to go left. There were no indicator lights on the side of his lorry only the front and back and the vehicle had no audible warning that it was tuning left or right. He had flashing lights on the rear of the vehicle, which came on automatically with the side lights.

He checked his nearside mirror as the lights when from red to amber, he said, and turned left.

Mr Salter asked: “In your nearside mirror there was nothing to be seen, is that right?” The driver replied: “No, no.”

Oxford Mail: The junction of Headington Road and Headley Way, where the crash took place The junction of Headington Road and Headley Way, where the crash took place

The lorry was fitted with mirrors only and had no additional cameras or ‘blind spot mirrors’ covering the nearside of the vehicle. The crane jib partly obscured the view out the left side of the cab.

Mr Hicks confirmed that he had ‘considered’ the cyclist he had only recently passed. “I checked the mirrors but I couldn’t see no one,” he said.

He passed a roadside breathalyser test and later passed an eyesight test.

A decision had been made by Thames Valley Police, whose officers interviewed Mr Hicks under caution a month and a half after the crash, that no further action would be taken against the driver. There was insufficient evidence to prove that he had driven carelessly, the inquest heard.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward