On the 22nd June this year, The Sunday Times Magazine published an article about the last time a father took his 14 year old son, Kadian, on a bike ride.
The son was killed outright by a white van, as the son sped from a footpath out onto a road.
At the inquest following this tragedy, the coroner recorded a ‘narrative verdict’, meaning he did not attribute cause to any named person. My reason for mentioning this heart-wrenching story here is that one part of the inquest surprised me, for reasons that will become clear. The story was written by the father, Thomas Harding. He recounts events after the accident:
“The inquest is held in Salisbury. At first the coroner affects a tone of camaraderie, of one parent talking to another. Then he turns adversarial, harsher: tell me about the purchase of the bike. Tell me about the assembly. The final ride. The conditions. The route. He asks me if I had a compass, and if not, why not. He chides me for getting lost that day – why didn’t I use the position of the sun to determine that we were following an incorrect route?”
By quoting this excerpt here, I’m not implying that natural navigation could have saved Kadian that day; I have no idea, but it seems unlikely. My reason for highlighting it is that I am genuinely surprised that in 2012 a coroner expected a cyclist to be able to navigate using the sun.
My sympathies to the family. There is a website dedicated to Kadian Harding.