An accomplished director of photography died in a freak accident while cycling with his dog, an inquest has heard.
Lawrence James Gardner, of Lauderdale Road in Hunton Bridge, near Abbots Langley, suffered an acute traumatic haemorrhagic brain injury when he fell off his bike during a regular cycle with his pet Belgian Shepherd in August last year.
You stopped, you did what you could. The injuries were unsurvivable – but I want to thank you and your wife for stopping.Coroner Edward Thomas
The 49 year old had been busy filming during the day on Sunday, August 17 and had reportedly been relaxed and happy as he enjoyed supper and a drink at home before heading out with the dog, who was around nine months old.
The animal’s lead had been tied to Mr Gardner’s handlebars as per his usual routine, though this time something caused him to come off his bike and hit his head on the pavement, with devastating consequences.
Police who attended the scene found no debris or holes in the pavement to have caused the bike to veer off course, and it was ruled no other bicycle or vehicle had hit Mr Gardner as he rode.
Senior coroner for Herts Edward Thomas suggested the young dog may have become startled, run in front of the bike or been clipped by the front wheel, causing Mr Gardner to lose control and fall.
Good Samaritan Keith Brown had been passing in his car at the time of the accident and, although he didn’t witness the cause of the fall itself, he described seeing a ‘dark mass’ in the corner of his eye.
Mr Brown, who had been driving home to Bushey Heath after visiting his son in Hemel Hempstead, reversed back in the quiet road near Leavesden and attended to the victim with his wife, who found his breathing to be shallow and called an ambulance.
While emergency services rushed to the scene, an off-duty police officer and a motorcyclist also stopped to offer assistance, before the critically injured Mr Gardner was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington by land ambulance.
No post-mortem examination was held on Mr Gardner’s body as there was clear medical evidence for the cause of his death, but a CT scan performed on him at the London hospital confirmed extensive head injuries which were unsurvivable.
He died the next morning.
Coroner Mr Thomas told Mr Brown, who gave evidence at Hertfordshire Coroner’s Court in Hatfield on Wednesday: “I would just like to thank you for stopping. You had to pass and reverse, and in many accidents people just go past.
“You stopped, you did what you could. The injuries were unsurvivable – but I want to thank you and your wife for stopping.”
While Mr Gardner was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, the court was told this would not necessarily have prevented his injuries.
Mr Thomas recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying: “What actually caused him to fall at that particular stage is just supposition.
“The tragedy is that this was unrestrained fall and his head went straight onto a very hard surface. It was a very tragic situation.”