Poor decision of van driver was ‘catalyst’ for death of popular Norfolk athlete
PUBLISHED: 15:03 29 July 2020
The “poor decision” of a van driver to overtake a popular athlete was the catalyst for a crash which killed him, an inquest heard.
Sze-Ming Cheung, 44, was cycling on Reepham Road, Swannington, near Reepham, as part of training for an iron man race in Italy on a bike he had built when he was involved in a fatal crash with a grey Nissan Navara on June 7 2018.
An inquest held at Norwich Coroner’s Court on Wednesday (July 29) heard Mr Cheung’s bike was struck by the Nissan Navara, driven by Alan Hall, who had swerved to avoid a van that had overtaken the cyclist.
Several people went over to assist Mr Cheung, including an off-duty police officer who gave him CPR.
The officer went to speak to Mr Hall who told him he came up the hill but a van was overtaking the cyclist and was on his side of the road which “caused him to swerve and somehow he collided with the cyclist”
The officer said he was “very subdued” but described a “smell of alcohol” in the vehicle and noticed that he was drinking from a peach bottle.
He said Mr Hall had told him he had drunk alcohol at about 11.30am that day.
Mr Hall was breath-tested and found to be under the influence of alcohol and subsequently arrested for drink driving and causing death by dangerous driving.
Mr Hall attended the inquest but answered “no comment” to all questions asked by the coroner, who he told he was declining to answer on the grounds of self-incrimination.
Questions he declined to answer included whether he had been drinking alcohol on June 7 2018, whether he was driving “in a rush” or whether he was late to pick up his daughter.
A statement he made to police after he was interviewed by officers the day after the crash was however read out during the inquest.
Mr Hall had made a statement in which he said he had been driving from Reepham towards the NDR so he could get to Easton College to pick up his daughter.
During the journey he said there was “a van on my side of the road” which he “swerved” in order to miss but “felt the back end” of his vehicle swing out before he hit the bank on the opposite side of the road.
He said he “heard something” and can only assume the back of his vehicle hit the cyclist.
In the statement he described still feeling “in shock” and how he felt sorry for the family adding “if I could change it I would”.
PC Paul Mackay, collision investigator with Norfolk Police, said the “poor decision” of the driver of the “unidentified” van who overtook the cyclist and veered towards Mr Hall acted as a “catalyst” for the events that followed.
PC Mackay said Mr Hall, who was found to be more than two times the legal limit for driving, in his “intoxicated” state was less able to deal with a rapidly changing situation.
Senior Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion that Mr Cheung died as a result of road traffic collision adding that drinking alcohol “will affect a person’s ability to drive safely”.
Mr Cheung’s family, including brothers Dick and Jack, both 44, and mum Wai-Hing, 72, who run the Chung Hing Chinese restaurant in Hellesdon, attended the inquest.
Last month police confirmed how “no further action will be taken against either person interviewed in relation to the collision”.
Last year it emerged neither would face further action, but Mr Cheung’s family requested a review which confirmed that no further action would be taken against either person spoken to as a result of the collision.
Speaking last month, the family said they were “absolutely devastated”.
Dick said: “We have fought hard for justice, unfortunately we haven’t got it and those responsible will not be brought to the courts and they get to live their lives.
“Sadly, Sze-Ming won’t, we are absolutely devastated and always will be.”
Mr Cheung, of Drayton Wood Road, Hellesdon, ran the chip shop next to the family Chinese which was renamed Caseys in honour of his father Kam who died in 2002.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.