Young lawyer, 27, died after falling from bike into oncoming traffic on trip with cycling club

Young lawyer Orla Lawlor died in a cycling accident
Young lawyer Orla Lawlor died in a cycling accident
Young lawyer Orla Lawlor died in a cycling accident
Young lawyer Orla Lawlor died in a cycling accident

A young  lawyer died when she fell from her bike into oncoming traffic during an outing with her cycling club, an inquest heard.

Orla Lawlor, 27, originally from Ireland, tumbled into the path of Thomas Willis’s car after her front wheel clipped the back wheel of one of her club mates.

The successful medical negligence solicitor – daughter of all-Ireland winning senior hurler Pat Lawlor – collided with an oncoming vehicle near Langford, Beds., and was knocked to the ground.

Emergency services received a call at 10.45am and an East Anglia Air Ambulance wase dispatched to the scene but they were unable to save the solicitor.

A post-mortem found Miss Lawlor, from Cambridge, died from multiple injuries and was confirmed dead at the scene.

An inquest Bedford Coroner’s Court has now ruled the death was the result of a road traffic accident.

Coroner Bob Amos, in court on November 6 said how Orla Lawlor was a much loved person and died having a “great time” doing what she loved.

He said: “Orla Lawlor lost control and therefore I can’t conclude it happened for this or that reason.

“She fell into the path of an oncoming vehicle which left her with fatal injuries and at 11.20am was confirmed dead.

“I am grateful to Anne Marie Lawlor (her sister) who has told me Orla was a much loved person with an outgoing personality and died having a great time doing what she loved.

“She had many friends and a partner Aidan with whom she was looking forward to enjoying her life with, something which sadly will now never happen.”

Thomas Willis told the hearing he “suddenly” saw Miss Lawlor fall when she suddenly lost control of her bike while she was riding with a group from Cambridge Cycling Club.

Mr Willis said: “I just saw this cyclist fall out on to my side of the road – it all happened in just a split second. I didn’t see her wobbling, she just fell.

“I felt the impact, but it all happened very quickly and I lost control of the car and went across the road into the field.”

Orla Lawlor was cycling with a group from Cambridge cycling club on April 22 when she lost control of her bicycle.

The inquest heard how Miss Lawlor’s front wheel may have clipped the back wheel of the cyclist in front of her.

The keen cyclist, who is also a member of Cambridge Triathlon club, was riding next to Susan Taylor when she fell to her death.

Giving evidence, Susan Taylor told how Orla Lawlor was travelling with the cycling club from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, in the intermediate group when the accident happened.

Her riding partner said: “I was travelling with the cycling club from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, different groups for different riding speeds such as sporting which is the fastest.

“I was in the intermediate group which was quite large that day so we decided to split up and I led my group to Old Warden in Biggleswade, Beds., I had ten people in my group.

“Orla started cycling beside me and I chatted to her as I hadn’t seen her much before and she said she hadn’t done much group riding but mostly went out on her own.

“We weren’t going fast at all, about 10 miles an hour average, and the road wasn’t particularly busy. There was a big field on the left.

“A bit later I just looked over at her as we were talking, I didn’t even see the car coming in the other direction, she wasn’t wobbling she must have just clipped the wheel of the bike in front and just went right into the path of the car.

“I heard this noise and we all stopped and I knew something terrible had happened.

“I ran back down the road and that was it she was dead and she was just lying there in the road unconscious.

“The amount of times people come off their bikes with our club, I have been doing this for 20 years. 99 per cent of the time she would have fallen into the verge, it is such bad luck that the car happened to be there at that precise time.

“The ambulance must have been there within 10 minutes and the helicopter within 15. She was given CPR, everyone did their best.”

Officer Robert Wagstaff from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Collision Investigation Unit said a call was reported at 10.51am to deal with a two vehicle crash between a cycle and an MG vehicle.

Speaking at the inquest Robert Wagstaff said: “From the information we received it seemed a cyclist had fallen into the path of a vehicle.

“Could quite clearly see the point of impact. The damage to the car was all very low which is consistent with her falling.

“Know from experience that this type of impact doesn’t need to be very fast but is rarely survivable. Was going 48-54 in 60 mile an hour limit so no issue with speed.”

Orla Lawlor was identified by her partner shortly after her time of death on April 23.

“She was an athlete and a very keen cyclist. She was wanting to improve her cycling and was doing an amateur mountain stage of the Tour de France later this year.

“She was also a member of the Cambridge Triathlon Club. We had a lot in common and she was a pleasure to work with.

“Orla was just about to go to Majorca with her boyfriend for two weeks of cycling.”

Bedford Coroner’s Court heard how Miss Lawlor – who moved to Cambridge from Ireland to work as a solicitor – was much loved by her family and friends, was an outgoing person, and was an outstanding academic.

Orla was due to turn 28 on April 26. She moved to Cambridge from Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny in Ireland, after graduating from the University of Limerick with an honours law degree.

The keen horse rider and hockey player was described by those closest to her as a “great family girl”.

She was very close to her young nieces and nephew was well known and returned home to Ireland in February when the family gathered for the christening of her young nephew, Hugh.

At the time of the accident Adam Copeland, an associate who worked with her in medical negligence and fellow CCC member, said: “It was because of her warm and generous nature and overall caring personality.

“From the cleaners to the senior partner, everyone warmed to her. You couldn’t help it. She was a ray of sunshine.


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