Tragic cyclist had ‘no lights’

Tragic: Lewis Balyckyi
Tragic: Lewis Balyckyi
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A promising young cyclist was killed when his bike collided with a transit van on one of his regular training routes, a court has heard.

Lewis Balyckyi, 18, was found dead in a hedgerow shortly after the collision with the van driven by Leslie Pitblado, from Leyland, at around 5pm on January 18 last year.

Preston Crown Court heard the teenager, who had been selected to train with a European race cycling team in France, was riding along North Road in Bretherton, near Chorley, when he was struck by the van.

As he left his home shortly after 3.30pm, Lewis told his mother he needed new lights for his bike.

In a statement read by Francis McEntee, prosecuting, Lewis’s mother, Jackie Balyckyi, said: “Knowing what time it was I remember telling him ‘watch the light - it’ll catch up with you’.”

But the court heard although it had become dark, the keen racing cyclist was not displaying any lights at the time of the collision.

Motorist Noel Taylor, who was travelling in the opposite direction along North Road, said he spotted Lewis, dressed in dark clothing, with a fluorescent jacket “flailing behind him” seconds before hearing the smash of the collision.

He told the court: “I knew what it was because there was nothing else it could be.

“When I saw that cyclist without his lights on I thought ‘you’re going to have an accident’, and when I heard the smash I realised what had happened.”

Opening the case, Mr McEntee told the jury Pitblado, 50, of St Annes Road, Leyland, had been at the wheel of the van with a number of work colleagues travelling with him.

His son, who was sitting beside him in the front of the vehicle, spotted the cyclist seconds before the crash.

Mr McEntee said: “When the defendant was interviewed he accepts his son had seen the cyclist and he accepts he had been unaware of the cyclist until the point of the collision.

“You may draw the conclusion that is a lack of care and attention, the passenger having seen the cyclist, the driver did not.”

Mr Taylor told the court he noticed the van overtaking him and crossing into the oncoming carriageway within seconds of the collision.

When he heard the smash, Mr Taylor said he stopped and saw the passengers get out of the van and a number of people come from nearby houses to look for the cyclist.

Mr McEntee said: “Lewis Balyckyi was thrown into a hedgerow and was found dead at the scene.”

Pitblado denies a single count of causing death by careless driving.