The parents of the 21-year-old cyclist who died on an ‘inadequately marked and controlled crossing’ in St John’s have spoken out following months of silence.
An inquest in October 2021 heard that Luke McNicholas, who was not wearing a helmet, emerged onto the crossing at 3.15pm immediately in front of a black Honda Civic, and had a fatal accident in which he collided with the car.
It happened on the Heritage Trail over the Curragh Road in January 2021.
He was taken to Noble’s Hospital and later died from his injuries.
Coroner of Inquests Jayne Hughes said the markings on the crossing, painted in a pink and white Celtic knot design, gave ‘no warning of the approaching danger’.
Ian Perry, the cyclist’s stepfather, told the Isle of Man Examiner: ‘We had the inquest and the coroner’s hearing in relation to Luke’s death and before we went in, the police advised us and we were aware the Attorney General’s office wasn’t going to prosecute the Department of Infrastructure and make it accountable.
‘However, because of the failings in relation to the DoI and everything that had come up during the hearing, the coroner, Jayne Hughes, requested for an independent health and safety assessment to be undertaken.
‘After Luke’s death, the DoI did a report with recommendations of what needed to be done, such as they hadn’t completed the warning signs correctly, and they hadn’t fixed the gates into a permanent locked position, meaning cyclists would have to dismount and walk through the gates.
‘Off the back of that, Jayne Hughes then asked for an additional health and safety report to be undertaken to see whether there was any further responsibility, so they’ve done that report and the police contacted us to say there isn’t anything more that will happen.’
He said he was still waiting for the health and safety report to come back to him and the family.
Following the inquest, the crossing was removed by DoI officers.
‘They removed it straight away because they felt it was the right thing to do,’ added Mr Perry.
‘Jayne Hughes asked what complaints had been undertaken and the DoI said they hadn’t had any complaints regarding it. Mrs Hughes has since been sent various posts from when the crossing was first installed, of which there are over 200 comments attached where people are saying “this is an accident waiting to happen” and “this needs to be changed”.
‘Whether the DoI are saying no formal complaints had come through, I don’t know that, I won’t be privy to that.
‘There’s lots of people who are now contacting us to say, “I complained about it, more than happy for my name to be used for it”.’
Mr Perry said the police officers the family had dealt with directly were ‘very supportive’ and explained to them that there were laws that meant no criminal filings could be made against the DoI.
He added: ‘I think they did an excellent job. From their viewpoint, they were very surprised about the outcome of it, in that it could have been totally preventable.’
Jane Perry, Mr McNicholas’ mother, took to social media to express her upset, saying: ‘After the hearing was held into Luke’s death, my family were so hurt and disgusted about what came out in court.
‘After months of trying to get an answer as to the findings, we finally found out that the safety review said there wasn’t a case to answer.
‘My husband asked why [the gates] weren’t fixed in place before and they said it was always the plan but they didn’t get around to it. If the gates were fixed in place Luke would be alive.
‘There was also a report produced prior to putting the crossing down that you should not have a 40 mile speed limit over any sort of pattern on the road.
‘Also the pink patterned crossing has now been removed despite it apparently being “perfectly safe”.’
She added that the whole process had ‘taken its toll’ on the family.
‘We are extremely upset at the findings. Luke lost his promising future and his siblings have lost a brother,’ she continued.
‘I am a shadow of the person I was. I suffer anxiety, I worry all the time over my family.
‘My heart is totally broken, I have been in counselling to help with PTSD and complex grief. I have cried every single day.
‘We all miss Luke and his huge personality so much.’
Both Mr and Mrs Perry were disappointed they had not received an apology from the DoI following Mr McNicholas’s death. ‘Not even an apology, just our lives broken and battered,’ Mrs Perry said.
‘It’s as if Luke’s life was expendable to these people.
‘I won’t be silenced anymore. Luke should still be here and there is a big gaping hole in our lives without him.’
Anyone who made a complaint about the St John’s crossing prior to the accident are encouraged to come forward and contact Mrs Perry on Facebook.
The DoI declined to comment.