'Not Guilty' Plea in Spectator Death Case

Oct 7, 2017
by Paul Aston  
On August 31, 2014, in Llangollen, Wales, at a downhill race organized by Mike Marsden's Borderline Events Company, a rider lost control during their race run and crashed with their bike. The bike collided with a spectator standing in the crowd, unfortunately resulting in the tragic death of the spectator who was there to watch her fiancé race.

Last week, Mike Marsden, the race organiser; Kevin Duckworth, the marshal; and British Cycling attended court for the second time, with each one pleading not guilty to "failing to ensure the safety of spectators at the competition and failing to provide marshals with adequate training regarding the safety of spectators."

Moore Large O Neal at BDS Round 4 Llangollen 2017
The tragic event took place at Llangollen, Wales, a private bike park that is integral to the UK downhill scene.

The following is taken from the BBC website:

bigquotesThe organizers of a mountain biking race in Denbighshire have pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges in relation to the death of a spectator.

Judith Garrett, 29, of Prudhoe, Northumberland, died after a bike hit her at the Borderline Downhill Series event in Llangollen in August 2014.

Two race officials and the British Cycling Federation faced health and safety charges at Mold Crown Court. A four-week trial is expected to take place in June next year.

Miss Garrett was airlifted to hospital after she was hit by an "out of control" bike as she watched her boyfriend Peter Walton compete in the race on 31 August, 2014 at Tan y Craig Farm. She died the following day at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke having suffered major head injuries.

The charge against the British Cycling Federation - which sanctioned the race - alleges that it failed to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure the health and safety of people attending.

Race official Michael Marsden, 40, of Lancaster, is alleged to have failed to conduct the event in such a way that people including Miss Garrett were not exposed to risk. It is alleged that he failed to ensure the safety of spectators at the competition and failed to provide marshals with adequate training regarding the safety of spectators. The final charge against him alleges that he failed to report the death of Miss Garrett at the competition.

A marshal, Kevin Ian Duckworth, 41 of Accrington, Lancashire, is alleged to have failed to ensure that his health and safety duties as a marshal were complied with. Mr Duckworth and Mr Marsden were given unconditional bail. 




Mike Marsden ran a slick event and the overwhelming majority of people agreed the venue was fantastic. A big thanks must go to Mike and his crew for a great weekend racing.
Borderline Events' Mike Marsden

The case will take place in Crown Court in front of a twelve-man jury in June 2018, and is expected to take up to four weeks. So what does this all mean? Well I am no lawyer, but the basic facts around the case appear to be:

• There has already been a coroner's inquest into the incident where it was determined that there is a criminal case to be answered.

• The trial is a criminal trial and not a civil one, therefore no compensation or insurance companies are involved. Denbighshire are the local authority and are responsible for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work act in their designated area.

• The race organiser, course marshal, and British Cycling are charged with a number of offences.

• The race organiser has duty of care for everyone at their event.

• The British Cycling Commissaire was a volunteer and only received out of pocket expenses, and therefore is not facing charges in relation to the incident.

• Breaches of the Health and Safety at Work act can lead to imprisonment and large fines for any individual or organisation found guilty.

• If the spectator had signed a disclaimer this would not change the current process because 'Under UK law, the validity of disclaimers is significantly limited by the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. By virtue of the Act, a business cannot use a contract term or a notice to exclude or restrict its liability for negligence causing death or personal injury'.

Pictures by Dave Clarkson He didn t save this
The final section of the Llangollen track, near to where the incident took place. Pictured rider, Blake White of TRG racing had no involvement in the accident, picture has been used to show the track only.


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198 Comments

  • + 258
 Unreal. Baring some sort of heinous action that may have occurred and wasn’t mentioned, I hope this somehow gets thrown out. Accidents happen, unfortunately. We can’t live in bubbles.
  • + 160
 Its the Dumb it down, pad it up, think of the children global inititive. Someone must be at fault for everything including chaos. Shit happens, thats life. No one to blame here. I hope the family can find peace by other means and move on.
  • + 46
 @Boardlife69: the fact that this case has been brought by the police, not the family, indicates that they have. Which I hope is true.
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: I wonder what role her fiancee, as a racer, played in the lawsuit. I mean, is he in support or against it?
  • + 55
 @Ron-C: I don’t want to get technical, but I’ve seen it said a few times now- this is not a lawsuit. The police charged these organizers with crimes based on the coroners statements.
  • + 25
 @Ron-C:
It's not a lawsuit, it's a criminal trial.
  • + 20
 @egb81: I think its a prosecution brought by the UK health and safety executive (HSE). The police investigate first and if no criminal act (watch the wording - a criminal act is where someone set out to make this happen) was discovered then the police hand it over to the HSE and they investigate on failures to provide a safe place etc. Under UK laws there are expectations on prior risk assessment and other factors. If you are found wanting in these areas then the HSE lead the prosecution. The maximum penalty is manslaughter when there is gross negligence. There have been many large scale incidents in the UK (train crashes) where many deaths did not result in any accountability. UK law has been changed to bring some accountability to management (I'm assuming organisers in this case).
  • + 9
 Imagine the consequences of a possible impact of Greg Minaar's bike with a spectator instead of that pole that snapped it in half. There would be life altering consequences..
  • - 141
flag blue-storm-trooper (Oct 7, 2017 at 10:45) (Below Threshold)
 Leave to some sue happy jerk to make money on a extreme sport just being a spectator.......
  • + 46
 reading comprehension.
  • + 13
 @blue-storm-trooper: I don't think this is a lawsuit, as a number of people above have already noted.
  • - 13
flag Scotj009 (Oct 7, 2017 at 11:59) (Below Threshold)
 This is Bullshit, accidents happen why can't the law see and accept that!
  • + 27
 @Scotj009: Accidents do happen yes, but they can also be avoided
  • + 17
 @JosHan: Yep 100% but if your going to stand that close to a track a bike could fly at you and seriously injure you or cause death, and yes the organisers could have put up signs but i think the law is forgetting people can think for themselves!!
  • + 5
 @Scotj009: Again, the police brought this forward. If there's negligence, there's a bit of a different ring to it when it's the police saying so than when it's a grieving family looking for someone to blame (who, in this case, had the brought it forward just might have had something). The response to this accident is in question, as well.
  • + 30
 The HSE have investigated and found enough evidence of wrong doing to pass this to the CPS who have filed criminal charges. That's 2 expert bodies that believe there is a case of criminal negligence resulting in a fatality, at that point it should be heard in court. 100's if not 1000's of people would die every year if not for the Health and Safety at Work Act, and other similar supporting legislation. I have worked on sites where violators have been heavily punished, and everybody working there applauded it, as in one case a worker was lucky to survive, and in the other the worker died. These kind of laws are needed by society, but like in this case they can be quite broad and far reaching. At the end of the day though, if you own a business, or stage an event it is your duty to understand both your responsibilities and potential liabilities.
  • + 9
 I think it's fair to say we don't know enough at all then!
  • + 17
 I think it will come down to the spectators area allowed in the area of the crash. If the part of the track is a notorious crash spot and spectators were allowed to stand in the 'splash zone' then there really is some owness on the organisers. On a side note, I hate to think how rally event organisers go with having spectators standing inches from cars doing 100mph in the air over gravel roads
  • + 0
 Are you allowed to post comments on social media about an ongoing criminal case which involves the death of a person ?
  • + 2
 @Matt115lamb: I imagine you are ALLOWED, and I see a general discussion of the topic as fine, however speculation of who is guilty of what and why is probably in very poor taste, and potentially slanderous. There is obviously some evidence, charges have been filed, anybody involved is INNOCENT until proven guilty
  • + 8
 @JosHan: Agreed, and the main purpose of a criminal trial brought forth by the police without regard to financial gain is to make recommendations and policies to help avoid this type of accident in the future. Hopefully this is the main outcome and the charged organizers are not fully prosecuted especially if gross negligence is not present. Nobody wants any of this, but if some potential negligence is involved, then it should be addressed.
Sympathies to the victims family and friends.
  • + 9
 This is the beginning of the end of downhill racing in the UK. No one wants to organise races as it is because they don't make any money. This is going to be another nail in the coffin. This was a tragic accident. Nothing more, nothing less. It's pretty obvious that if you stand next to the track then a bike might hit you. Look at that Graves rock incident last week. Being close to the track is part of the excitement. Nanny State needs to back the 'kup.
  • + 4
 @jaame: graves rock?
  • + 7
 @jaame: Agreed

On another note- I'm pleased to see it, but if the marshal and the race organiser have been accused then why also is not the rider? Surely he was negligent for crashing his bike and allowing it to leave the course Rolleyes

*sits back*
  • + 7
 @jmd2drsrbtrrthn4: Jared Graves roosted a fist sized rock into a kid's face at the EWS last week. Total accident, the kid was standing on the outside of a rocky turn, just next to the track. I was a good size and square in the face.
  • + 1
 @Ron-C: it is not a law suit. It is a criminal trial. His views would play no part in the CPS decision to go to trial
  • + 2
 H&S will just impose a safe distance line beyond the race tape is my guess for races based in UK post court verdict. Nothing will come of it unless there seems a major flaw is H&S which is totally overlooked.
  • + 2
 I dont understand: if the course was taped off, and if the person was standing behind the tape when the bike hit her.... wouldnt that just be ruled an accidental death? Same for any type of racing, i would assume.
  • + 7
 While I agree with you, sometimes it takes horrible incidents like this to awaken everyone to the danger that is very real for both riders and spectators that is inherent to an event like this. By pursuing criminal action, it holds the event organizers responsible for their spectators. And while I hope that no one is found guilty of criminal acts I would hope that this process would result in a safer environment for all. Even if people are just more aware. No one wants to be the one that goes out for a fun weekend and doesn't return. I hope for the best for all who are involved.
  • + 4
 @ninjatarian: In my opinion, these are the worst cases. As a personal "victim" of a crazy government witch hunt I'm amazed at the legal system gone amuck. A tragic crash and death--both parties I'm assuming made peace, and here comes big brother to save the day.
  • - 2
 Maybe it's time for spectators to start signing a disclaimer then it would make it obvious that what they are watching is extreme mountain bikers at a good level of skill . This could end race events in the U.K. @Norski:
  • + 0
 @Scotj009: would you stand close to the edge of the street when cars are wizzing past at 30+ mph? I don't think so, use common sense and stand back. Don't get close to danger unless your willing to accept the hazards.
  • + 2
 @flyingfox49: A disclaimer would be irrelevant. An instructor got sued for a couple of million pounds last year (and lost) because he failed to properly assess a rider at his instruction day's ability and the guy ended up paralysed. The unfortunate rider had signed a disclaimer, the court's attitude amounted to So What? In the UK the organiser of any event is responsible for the safety of all it's attendees, no exceptions.
.
As for this affecting racing, I think DH racing has bigger problems than this. For MTB racing in general it will probably lead to tightening of standards for course taping, spectator areas and commissaire briefings. Up to now standards for MTB races have been vague at best, so hopefully British Cycling will take the bigger kicking of the three defendants since they set standards.
  • + 1
 Yeah but being paid to coach somebody is totally different to volunterally watching a dangerous sport ? Where the accident occurred I wouldn't personally have spectatored ! @Fix-the-Spade:
  • + 0
 @jvbutter: I do everytime i cross a busy rode... In all seriousness that's what my comment was about, you should know the risks if your gonna stand that close and I would if i was a spectator and I do as a spectator of races and just people riding in general, I accept the risk... Not sure what you're trying to say...
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: That lawsuit wasn't quite that simple: www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2016/2798.html
  • + 3
 I was thinking the same thing ( regarding rally races). People are literally parting like the Red Sea on the road while these cars fly by. I’m actually quite surprised we haven’t seen/heard of more incidences like these considering the speeds dh racers are reaching now. @ctd07:
  • + 3
 @flyingfox49: I would imagine that the HSE's view would be that the organisers can't rely on spectators being experienced, clued up MTBers with knowledge of the specific risks of DH racing. So you would not have spectated where the accident took place... but could the average non-rider spectating at their first event have been reasonably expected to have made the same decision? That's the perspective you need to use, I'm afraid.

If you say it's obvious to a rider that people shouldn't have spectated there, HSE will probably ask why the organiser didn't recognise the danger and tape it off, have a visible warning or a marshal present. I don't know the specifics of this accident, but those are the general principles.
  • + 3
 @egb81: charging the race organizer with a crime is like blaming Spoon and Fork manufacturers for someone getting fat. This was a tragic accident not a crime.
  • + 2
 @properp: In UK law there is no such thing as an accident... otherwise every lawyer would use that as a basis fro all their arguments
  • + 0
 @T1mb0: in the United States if you have enough money to hire the right lawyer you can turn any crime into an accident and walk free. That's just how we roll here in the great U.S.A. Letting slimy lawyers, judges, and politicians destroy this country a little bit more everyday.
  • - 2
 @properp: sadly true. I guess thats why a certain someone has lives in the whitehouse Wink
  • + 0
 @T1mb0: kudos for trumping my comment
  • + 2
 In the US of A this is called “inherent risk.” There have been similar lawsuits here for various sporting events with spectators getting injured and (with the exception of gross negligence) the cases aren’t won by the injured party.
  • + 1
 @denomerdano: There was life altering consequences here though, a death.
  • + 0
 Gutted for everyone involved.
  • + 2
 @Thustlewhumber: @Thustlewhumber: I think the contentious issue surrounds the use of double-taped areas. The course was obviously taped, there's just a question over the size and location of the exclusion zone outside of the race track.

I hope this is resolved without ruining anyone else's life. Tragic incident and clearly lessons to be learnt, but I hope Mike and Kev are able to do so.
  • + 105
 Can people please stop confusing this case for a lawsuit?!! Nobody is pursuing a cash payout here and no, common sense hasn't been left at the door.
A woman died, that is extremely serious, the court case currently proceeding will reveal whether or not this should have been avoided if the appropriate measures were followed. This doesn't mean that the tree stumps should all have been padded with cotton wool and the rocks replaced with pillows but it does mean that in organising an event of this nature certain measures must be taken.
If all measures were taken then nobody is to blame and there may be lessons for the future.
  • + 3
 Well said.
  • + 5
 Yeah, I do agree with you. It makes me worry about my local State DH races. We sure don't (never did) have doubled-taped tracks or specially trained marshals etc. It's all pretty ad-hoc with "parents wearing high-vis" acting as marshals on the day. This could easily happen. I'd hate for my mate (organiser) to get into trouble if there was such an accident.
  • + 4
 Well said. Too many uninformed opinions coming from people who don't understand how the UK legal system works, or how the HSE go about their business.
  • + 6
 @doakwolf: heck, here in CO we usually don't even have single-taped courses. Usually the only taped spots are corners and open sections where someone could cut the course. Rider are just expected to stay somewhere near the track the rest of the time.

I imagine a lot of the smaller races here would not happen if they had to be taped top-to-bottom, because that would take a long time.

Enduro races are even less taped...
  • + 4
 @doakwolf: And marshalls? We certainly don't have any of those, although hopefully you get some medics on the course.
  • + 78
 Very Sad for all involved. No doubt the only ones winning out of this will be the lawyers.
  • + 2
 Amen to that.
  • + 2
 And yet they are necessary to help to enforce the laws on the books, and defend those who may not have broken them.
  • + 12
 It's also possible that other winners would be those who are not killed or injured by a similar occurence, yes? Accidents happen, but always due to a series of circumstances, and if any one of those circumstances can be changed then such accidents can be prevented.

That is not to say that massive changes are required that would adversly affecting racing or spectating. Usually, just a small change creates a great safety improvement with only minor inconvenience.
  • + 0
 @nonwhingingpom: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”
~Benjamin Franklin
  • + 9
 @therealtylerdurden: do the nra use that?
  • + 5
 @Braindrain: If the average NRA member could string two sentences together they would.
  • - 20
flag therealtylerdurden (Oct 8, 2017 at 10:13) (Below Threshold)
 @Braindrain: go f*ck yourself, punk.
  • + 4
 @Braindrain: does that make it less true?
  • + 10
 @leftCoastBurn: It does actually. That famous line from Franklin is about the Penn family (as in the owners of most of Pennsylviania at the time) abusing their status to avoid paying taxes. It was the middle of the French-Indian war and those taxes were needed to fund the defence of the frontier. Franklin was stating that those who would ignore their responsibilities and undermine the workings of government, law and society to protect their own interests are not deserving of society's protection and infrastructure.
.
So it's meaning is the precise opposite of what most people who trot it out think.
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: that may very well be true, but I'd need to see the context of the quote, because what you're saying seems to be a contradiction. Somehow the Penn family thought they would get security in exchange for giving up their liberty by not paying taxes? That doesn't make sense at all, but like I did there may be some larger context I'm not seeing. And, I still don't see how the application of that quote in it's modern context doesn't ring true...
  • + 0
 @leftCoastBurn: founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-06-02-0107 You can read the full letter here. If you can wade through the political language Franklin was writing to the Governer of Pennsylvania and roasting him for vetoing taxes to raise funds for the defence of the frontier, even though it was in Pennsylvania's best interest. The Governor was vetoing them because he was a puppet of the Penn family, who stood to receive a large tax bill, but were not under threat of violence the way landowners along the borders were.
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The liberty being given up is better described in modern English as civil rights, whilst the safety described is safety from enforcement (of the rule of law). The Penn family were enjoying the benefit of free trade and the safety provided by British Army/Royal Navy/Pennsylvania militia, but were attempting to opt out of paying their share of the bill (sound familiar?), undermining the ability of all three to continue operating against the French. It always makes me smirk when I see the phrase used to argue against any kind of government regulation or control, when in reality it's damning the undermining of governance.
  • + 41
 How is it possible for them to make a downhill track safe for spectators to prevent injury/death? The bikes are declining at a rapid pace. Don't want to get hurt...don't stand near the track.

This is the same as rally driving. You need to be liable for your own decisions and placement.

Sure the guy didn't conduct safety response better and that's his messup, but it was her decision to stand by the track while a biker and bike are facing down a mountain.
  • + 5
 It's likely the defence is going to argue that the spectator observed other cyclists pass by where she was standing and that she was a reasonable and competent person, therefore assuming the risks. That said, I think this case does present a very valid safety concern. I can't say I've ever seen any signage cautioning spectators of the potential dangers associated with an event like this. Riders acknowledge the risks vis a vis their waver. The counter-argument is the Cedric Gracie incident when he broke his femur (?) after he left the track and crashed on a stump that wasn't padded. There was a big push and shove on safety then as to where the line should be drawn between safety and protection and assumed risks of the sport/event. I'm genuinely sorry this person lost their life, but if improving safety for people in the future is the outcome, it'll only serve to further legitimize this sport.
  • + 2
 Today's culture, the concept of personal choice and responsibility is non-existent. It is all about helpless victimhood.

eg. Poverty causes crime (no moral agency, they had no other option, blahblah)
when, in fact, crime causes poverty.. (can't get a job if you have a criminal record.............)
  • + 17
 @cwatt: If a rider lets his bike go in a crash and that bike collides with your skull, it can hurt you. Do you really need a sign to tell you that?

If a safety sign was taped to the tree next to this poor girl, I have a hard time believing this suddenly wouldn’t have happened. So basically your ok with people going to jail in order to fake the improvement of safety and “further legitimize” the sport. Nice.
  • + 8
 @cwatt: Cedric's crash was on the way to the course. You can't pad every single stump/rock surrounding the course and every trail outside of it. That attitude doesn't legitimize the sport, it legitimizes the idiots who think people need to be protected from anything that poses the slightest bit of danger even in freak accidents.
  • + 10
 "This is the same as rally driving. You need to be liable for your own decisions and placement."

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-40670377
  • + 17
 @cwatt: I understand your arguments, but on a personal level it upsets me that people need posted signs or waivers in order to comprehend dangers, even life threatening dangers.

What really worries me with these charges is the use of the word 'ensure.' To ensure means to make something certain, or to guarantee something. That the courts are finding a criminal case in the lack of guaranteed safety at a downhill race is troubling. How can safety ever be guaranteed? Especially outdoors on the side of a mountain?

If there is something missing from this post, i.e. that because she was not a racer, medics failed to attend to her, then there was some failure on the part of the race. But simply that the race could not guarantee perfect safety and now individuals are facing prison time seems ridiculous. Even if they are all found not-guilty it seems like this could have a negative impact on races moving forward. I doubt this criminal case is cheap...
  • + 7
 @CJSelig: "but on a personal level it upsets me that people need posted signs or waivers in order to comprehend dangers, even life threatening dangers"

people are morons though
  • + 4
 @bartb You're so right. No one said you should go stand next to the track, but no one's going to stop you. That's your own decision. Also it mentions that disclaimers are basically useless in the UK so what are they supposed to do? no dangerous stuff of anykind?
  • + 1
 @ninjatarian: you can't assume that everyone, especially if they're not familiar with downhill racing, would know that a 40 lb projectile could get launched at them when they go to watch a bike race. And if they were told that could happen I think it would get people to at least be more aware if not stand at a safe distance. For what it's worth.
  • + 16
 @theminsta:

Not all criminals are poor some are insanely rich and successful
Not all poor people are criminals some live in abject poverty and never commit a crime

People that commit crimes will do it for a myriad of reasons; greed, jealously, opportunity, poor judgement etc. None of those are reasons are exclusive to poverty. Don't equate poverty to criminality.
  • + 2
 @cwatt: I would be very surprised if there were no warnings because of the way the UK has operated for years. In rally car racing warnings signs are everywhere.

If there weren't warnings then it would be pretty serious.

On one hand I do hope this isn't a pointless witch hunt because it will destroy the confidence of other organisers (nobody wants to be pursued when you have done things properly).....,but on the other hand I don't want to think somebody screwed up badly resulting in a death.
  • - 6
flag theminsta (Oct 7, 2017 at 10:55) (Below Threshold)
 @PinkBikeWhisperer:

Can you read? I never said "all" once in my example. This hashtag exists for you: #notall

Do you agree that having a criminal record will keep you in poverty if you are poor?

Do you have two brain cells to rub?
  • + 6
 Lets face it, the court will end up saying the entire course should have some form of crash netting to protect spectators from a flying bike. Health and safety laws are starting to get ridiculous. Bring back Darwinism
  • + 3
 @rrsport: Never happening with the democrat plantation + regressive welfare programs.
  • + 3
 @cwatt: especially knowing that she was should have been well accustomed to DH racing risks.
  • + 1
 @CJSelig: @CJSelig: Your points are wavering but is it fair that it shouldn't take a death to identify flaws in how events are organised with a myopic mindset that means marshals lack training. On the flip side if these were improved the sports would leap forwards in terms of professionalism and safety regarding small injuries that are track side to preventing a loss of life.
  • + 0
 @rrsport: I thought kiwi’s where the Darwin experiment ! Smile
  • + 11
 @greglikesspecialized: Okay, let's examine what we know based on this article and identify what the perceived 'flaws' may be.

1. The spectators were standing close enough to the track to be within 'flying bike range.'
2. The marshals lacked the appropriate training to handle a woman who suffered a fatal brain injury caused by a flying bicycle.
3. Signage warning of potentially deadly airborne bicycles was not readily posted where spectators stood.

Any others? Feel free to add to this list.

How would an organizer appropriately deal with flaw number 1? First they would have to identify what 'flying bike range' may be. I've seen crashes that sent bikes flying an impressive distance. So... 15 meters? Let's not allow any spectator within 15 meters of the course. But no one actually wants that! I've spectated my fair share of amateur races and standing against the tape with a beer and a noisemaker is, to me, worth the potential assault by bike. I don't actually want the first 'flaw' corrected. I think it's just a possible danger I'm perfectly okay with.

Flaw number 2? I'm not certain about UK racing, but in the US it isn't easy for race organizers to host good races. They are balancing the cost of the race with the demand for low entry fees so most course marshals tend to be unpaid volunteers. In fact, they are often the parents of groms who volunteer after an announcement by the organizer asking for more help. To either expect or require these marshals to be able to handle this level of trauma is ridiculous. They are present simply to call for medics when necessary and look for unfair racing. That is why race organizers pay medics. To clarify, it does not bother me that course marshals don't have medical training and don't interfere with injuries besides alerting medical professionals. So unless the marshal did not call a medic, I don't think flaw number 2 needs to be fixed either.

Flaw 3? As I posted originally, if you really want to post signs to inform people they may get hurt, because you feel they cannot take care of themselves, get ready to cover a wide range of dangers on the side of a mountain. There is: wild animals with potentially dangerous diseases, falling rocks, slippery conditions, lightening storms, fellow spectators who may be murderous psychopaths, the reality that you're on a side of a mountain without quick access to medical professionals and I'm sure we could think of a few more.

I'm sorry but I don't feel like anything could really be improved based on what I know of this incident. Tragedies happen, and as sad as they are they don't always require a new law or ordinance to prevent more in the future.
  • - 2
 @CJSelig: that’s because you no nothing of what happened ! So go and do your Columbo act somewhere else ! There’s just one more thing ? .....Wink
  • - 1
 @CJSelig: I agree with you there is a bit of common sense when standing next to a track and warning signs can only help, usually at races I have spectated or raced parts of the track are taped with a second set of tape 2m behind a feature so your chances of getting hit by a bike are far less.

Your second point on marshals is fair, they shouldn't be expected to somehow handle this level of trauma but your only accessing one aspect. Though this was a brain injury and not much can be done, in the grand scheme if all marshals took a basic health and safety course far more injuries wouldn't escalate , with a little bit of training it's amazing what you can do to increase someones chances of living before medics come (recovery position, bandages ect). Yet also this could branch out into minor injuries being taken care off and an increased understanding of concussion and how to nurture it.

Point 3, freak accidents happen and this is one but if it highlights flaws in races that if addressed help the sport in a whole I don't mind it's just unfair i had to take someones life to highlight them. I do think it unfair for race organises to be threatened by jail time though.
  • + 3
 @theminsta: i guess you have not heard of the isle of man TT
  • + 20
 How tragic. All around, for the poor woman wanting to watch her bf compete and losing her life. For the bike park personnel who would never in a million years have any say as to where a bike flies in the event of an accident. Tragic.
  • + 9
 Absolutely tragic. Condolences to the woman's family and fiancee. I imagine the marshal and race organizer must be gutted as well. Hope this is resolved fairly.
  • + 5
 It's bad isn't it, but when your times up, it's up. I don't understand however how they are saying the death wasn't reported by the event, but she was airlifted out alive? So they wouldn't have been there to report it from?
  • + 4
 @cunning-linguist: This would be covered under RIDDOR, any employer or event organizer should know their personal requirements.
www.hse.gov.uk/riddor
It was introduced in part to stop serious injuries in the work place being hidden in order to prevent investigations into hazardous work places, so breaking it is taken seriously
  • + 18
 Whilst I feel great sympathy for the spectator, her fiance and family, I find it very worrying that the marshal is being charged for anything here. The article doesn't say, but I would imagine he was someone who gave up his free time and volunteered to help run this event. I'm not sure how anyone was supposed to foresee this freak accident happening, and I hate the way we are going in society that someone must always be found at fault, whatever the circumstances.
Also for the event organiser, how can he allow spectators and then guarantee their safety? There are so many ways someone can get hurt out in the countryside, even without any event taking place.
  • + 2
 90% of people on this thread are saying just this. It was an accident, no one to blame, life goes on.

So who exactly is pushing the Nanny State agenda? I don't personally know anyone who thinks it is a good idea to try to protect all people from all things at all times, so whomis driving it?
  • + 19
 That kid that got smashed in the face by a rock flicked up by Graves in Italy last week will be watching this case
  • + 6
 Wrong place wrong time, for that lad. life sucks n then you die.
  • + 1
 Source?
  • + 16
 I was racing at the event and was present when the crash happened. So sad that this accident happened but my wife was moved on from the crash location by a marshal the day before during practice so I'm sure somebody will of been keeping an eye on that location as a few others were moved as well. Plus how can Mike have a charge for reporting a death when she passed away in hospital the next day unless this is a intricacy in the law that means the cause of the death?! I'm no lawyer. R.I.P and respects to the family and fiancé
  • + 15
 Miss Garrett was airlifted to hospital [...] on 31 August, 2014 at Tan y Craig Farm. She died the following day at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke [...].

Race official Michael Marsden [...] failed to report the death of Miss Garrett at the competition.

so where and when did she actually die?
#cheersbbc
  • + 5
 Yeah I picked that up? Makes no sense!
  • + 1
 @cunning-linguist: Did he have a duty to follow up on the accident at his event, aand report her death as being directly caused by the accident?
  • + 4
 @nonwhingingpom:As posted above;
This would be covered under RIDDOR, any employer or event organizer should know their personal requirements.
www.hse.gov.uk/riddor
It was introduced in part to stop serious injuries in the work place being hidden in order to prevent investigations into hazardous work places, so breaking it is taken seriously
  • + 14
 A lot of comments about whats right and wrong. For non uk folks, the incident is covered by the health and safety at work act (in the text above). This states that the organisers have a duty of care to the people at the event BUT also the people visiting also have an obligation under that law to act in a safe manner - that answers some concern you all seem to be having. The important bit is the law requires the organisers to carry out safety to a REASONABLY PRACTICAL level (they use these words exactly). So you can see its not a case of you turning up and someone else is responsible for you no matter what happens. The court case will establish whether the organisers did all that was reasonably practical. Cleary they think they did as they have pleaded not guilty. The HSE have to prosecute because the law states that you provide a safe place of work. This was not the case as the lady died (that bit is black and white). Ultimately someone didn't go home to their family and when is everything said and done that will still be the case. Tragic.
  • + 2
 Very well said. +1
  • + 2
 Well said!

In my home state, Alabama, there is a recreation law that covers this type of situation. Basically, if a landowner/organizer charges money for use or attendance then they are responsible for the safety of those that are paying for a service to recreate.

I think so many people are confused because our governments don’t really care unless a lot of people die due to gross negligence. It is usually up to the family of the deceased to take action.
  • + 7
 This is very sad on many levels - for those who have suffered loss and the poor lady that died, for the racer involved in the incident and his friends/family, and all those connected with the running of the race (particularly those charged with offences). I don't think anyone wins here.

Leaving emotion at the door, I think that if a coroner has independently advised that charges should be brought then it is right that the matter is heard in Crown Court - someone has died after all... They will have had a multitude of information upon which to make that decision which we do not. Had we received all that information might we feel similarly?

For that reason I do think it is worth holding back on judgements at this point - it may be that the organisation of the race was dangerous, or it may be a tragic and unforeseeable accident (I don't know if anyone who was there can give any insight?) - but the legal system here means that 12 members of the public will hear all the evidence and make a decision. Their decision of guilt must be unanimous for any party to be found guilty, and that all parties are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. If there is any suggestion that they were not negligent then they will not be held criminally culpable.
  • + 4
 What it sounds like to me, is that the authorities want race managers to take some responsibility for WHERE people stand at a DH race. Having been to a few, this is not a bad idea, people generally flock to the most dangerous spots to see the gnarliest riding. That being said, lets hope that there is no serious sentencing in this case, as the people could not have intended this outcome.
  • + 2
 This would cover all mtb events, not just dh mind you
  • + 4
 1000 marshals required for the average Enduro race. Seems practical.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: As mentioned above, the HSE works to what's "Reasonably Foreseeable" and "Reasonably Practicable".

If it's reasonably foreseeable that the outside of a techy corner is liable to be a wash out zone for crashes, it would be reasonably practicable to prevent spectators gathering in that area. It's not reasonably practicable to prevent spectators standing within 10m of every section of an Enduro race, nor would it be reasonably foreseeable for a rider to have a wild high-sider off on a relatively smooth, level-ish motorway section.
  • + 4
 As plenty of others have correctly stated, this isn't a "lawsuit" in the compensation type we see too many of these days. It's a criminal case brought by the health and safety regulatory body.

As someone else wisely posted, you can't expect a non-rider to make the correct risk assessment of where is and isn't safe to be as they're not familiar with things in the same way. As a result, it falls to the organisers and their staff to make the call around where is and isn't safe to be, and create steps (double taping, "no go areas" etc) to enforce that. If the case finds that BC or the organisers and their team fell short in those duties, it will create a framework for better safety in future.

Equally, those talking about "the death of UK DH" need to look at a bigger picture. You won't get the high value non endemic sponsorship you need to reduce entry costs (and so boost entry numbers) if potential sponsors are scared off by the risk of reputational damage through underdeveloped safety procedures that risk bad press for events they put their name to.

This is a horrible, tragic case that deserves to be viewed sensitively - and the outcome of the case could actually benefit the sport as a whole as well as providing answers as to what went wrong here. For that reason, it's probably time to put the pitchforks away.
  • + 4
 :Giles1991

Always good to hear the perspective of someone who was actually present, and it sounds like you have some pretty important info there. As someone who works in law enforcement (albeit unrelated in form), the fact that Marshall’s were moving people on from the location may be a piece of critical information needed, so I hope they pick up your comments on here, or that they receive that information in some way, as it may inform the outcome of the case.
  • + 2
 This is sad news! What the court is trying to do is just rediculious though! People fall and bikes go flying at every race, amateur and pro, so to think a spectator is safe is just plain stupid. You can't guarantee that a rider will stay on their bikes. That's like making the rider sign a contract saying they cannot fall. Spectators should know the risks when standing next to the tape, especially when everyone swarms around the rockiest, gnarliest sections just to watch the riders crash !!!!
  • + 7
 RIP self responsibility
  • + 3
 No one in today's world is responsible for themselves. There's always someone else to blame the result of your actions on. That's just how we roll now or days.
  • + 2
 @properp: Yeah it sucks. All these lawyers and bureaucrats will make this world boring as f*ck. If I don't want to be plowed by a rally car I'll either stand far from the track or stay at home. If I want roost in my face and have a good time I'll stand close to the track. My responsibility. Luckily the relatives of the girl, and everyone else seems to agree.
  • + 2
 Nice knowing you Pinkbike. You produce such high quality content, but these comments are repulsive. A woman lost her life you selfish ignorant morons. None of us know the details, yet the "blame the victim" dialogue is throughout this thread. A narrow-minded obsessive focus that is detached from reality is not dedication to your sport. It's just living in a tunnel. If you're mountain bikers, I'll just be some dude that rides a bike.
  • + 2
 Spectators like to be close to the action therefore putting themselves in the potential line of fire. When accidents like this lead to a criminal trial soon spectators will be taped 10 meters back from the track. No one wants that. If your concerned about being hit by a bike you can choose to stand back, otherwise you accept the risk of standing there. Hopefully the jury makes the sensible decision
  • + 0
 Yep...its called self responsibility.
  • + 2
 A lot of people here saying "it was an accident" etc.
Now I'm not making comment on whether it was an accident, but that is exactly what the court case is to determine.

We will know in June 2018 whether it was an accident or not, when a jury decides it, so until then, what you think is irrelevant
  • + 3
 Well it was an accident. It certainly wasn't purposeful by any party therefore it is an accident. However they need to decide if, with measures that could have reasonably been put in place, this accident could have been avoided.
  • + 4
 Sad situation for sure and could really make organizers think twice about hosting an event no matter the outcome of the case.
  • + 2
 www.healthyworkinglives.com/advice/Legislation-and-policy/Workplace-Health-and-Safety/health-safety-legislation

This is the Act we have in the UK Don t know if other countries have this type of legislation, it seems that Denbighshire council should have ensured that the event organisers had complied with H&S before the event started?
  • + 2
 I was surprised that Health and Safety in the UK would conduct this via a criminal investigation (as opposed to civil) so did a bit more reading.

Excuse the messy google links. This explains the authority

www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse49.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwjp1NiOy-LWAhXogFQKHZkYC9sQFgglMAA&usg=AOvVaw25gSsNVggKqrHstEh4o-St

Pg 12 summarizes the circumstances for the criminal law path. Note the"serious failings" reference

■ Prosecution in the criminal courts for the most serious failings:
▬ In England and Wales most cases are heard by magistrates who may, for certain serious offences, impose a maximum fine of £20 000 and a custodial sentence of up to 12 months. Some cases are referred to the Crown Court
where custodial sentences of up to two years can be given and there is no limit on the fine that may be imposed

Took a quick scan of the applicable law but couldn't find the relevant section for criminal prosecutions. See
www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/contents
  • + 1
 How tragic. My heart goes out to those who lost their loved one.

There does seem to be a strong dissonance between the requirements of the law and the realities of a downhill mountain bike race. One or both will have to adapt to minimize this risk in the future.

That all seems meaningless though, in light of the fact that a life was cut tragically short, several people are looking at potential prison sentences, and the person who crashed... I can't even imagine what a mind$#@! that must be. I don't pray, but my hopes and thoughts are with everyone impacted.
  • + 1
 What do the rules say about a dh event and safety in particular? Did the organizer comply? Was the death of the spectator in those circumstances foreseeable by the organizer? If so what would the reasonable person in his position have done to prevent such an incident? By the sound of UK law, the 1977 legislation may make it impossible for an organizer to escape liability by merely placing a sign advising spectators to stay 15 m away (say). They would actually have to put up a barrier (would tape be good enough?) and only then could the spectator be solely to blame for his/her own injury or death... On another note, how do Rally organizers deal with this kind of thing?
  • + 1
 I’ve been following this case and still don’t understand why the marshal was in court. Yes the organiser and the BC rep but a marshal who was just a Volunteer. And as someone who’s marshalled mtb racers I can say you can ask people to stand back and no one will ever listen
  • + 1
 Very sad situation in any sport to have a fatality.

In sanctioned events, there are many layers of regulations, rules, technical requirements and similar in the world of sports where events are sanctioned by a sports National Sports Organization (NSO). The NSO must follow the regulations, rules, technical requirements and similar of the World Sports Organization (WSO. Throw in the Olympics (IOC) and you get another layer

Even though it's a sport, the sports still have to follow some of the bylaws, regulations, laws and etc of society that guide the public in everyday life and when they are in the workplace. Sure they are sports where physical contact is allowed but even those sports can see players charged with crimes when the physical aspect goes beyond what is an acceptable part of the sport.

In this criminal case that involves the death of a spectator at a sport, there must be some laws that hold the organizers at all administrative levels accountable for providing a safe environment for the spectators and the athletes. As downhill mountain biking is young with very little technical requirements for the course design when compared to other sports, I imagine this is that area that the prosecutors will be looking at and going after.

The outcome may not be good for those involved in this criminal case but it might cause the sport to mature more where technical requirements of the course design include some sort of safety requirements that avoid serious injury to spectators and athletes. Right now outsiders of the sport might look at a downhill race as a sanctioned NASCAR race with no technical requirements for the tracks design or cars for the racers and where there are no safety walls or debris fences.
  • + 4
 Obviously sorry for the girls family but more so for the rider whose bike hit her. Imagine living with that.
  • + 1
 This is sad all around. Few things are more fun than the atmosphere and excitement of a major DH race. Part of the appeal is that you're close to the athletes and the action. The party atmosphere. Chain saws buzzing, people banging on rims. My daughter screaming her head off at every rider. It's the best sporting event going. However, at the US open there was one woman who set herself up in a chaise lounge chair with a picnic basket and bottle of wine right at the bottom and certainly in the crash line, of one of the more technical sections of the course. No way would she be able to get out of the way if a rider tumbled down that section. So.... part of it is common sense. Part of it should be the course Marshall letting people know in a nice way that lounging in the potential crash area is kinda sorta dumb. We can keep this sport as wonderful as it is but some common sense safety needs to be exercised.
  • + 4
 Hope this bullshit gets thrown out who would be a marshall if theses guys get banged up?
  • + 1
 If there is guilt in this tragedy it must be shared. Its a high speed sport with many potential results on both sides of the coin. When parents drag their 5 year olds down blacks or xc chicken walk down or tripod down downhill tracks we stop and politely point out they are fish out of water and at least guide them mentally to safer paths. Unfortunately some don't understand thus the words of my grandma: it is impolite to have others waiting on you.
Saying that her fiance is a racer and she was not stood alone. The guilt resides with all present and involved. It's easy to push the blame away. Takes more than a man to share the load. But no one should be punished legally for this if no one gets punished for brexit or trump.
  • + 1
 Given that workplace Health and safety Laws cannot anticipate every hazardous situation, they place heavy emphasis on workplaces establishing adequate risk assessments, policies, and procedures and on strictly following notification procedures in the event of an incident. This aims to increase self regulation. Breaches of these laws tend to be around these procedures rather than a specific deficiency. eg your breach isn't that you failed to double tape, it is more likely to be that you didn't conduct a risk assessment of some sort and / or follow a notification process after the incident.
  • + 0
 There were Comancears from British Cycling there who obviously okayed the track to race so if anyone’s at fault it’s british Cycling for not pointing out that the area was unsafe . Why pay massive money to have them there If they just drop you in the shit and provide no support . I know mike and Kev are not the most approachable at a race weekend but they would never knowingly put anyone at risk !
  • + 2
 Commisairs don't get paid massive money. I dont understand why the e marshall is in there though? Surely theyre a volunteer too and therefore excempt?
  • + 2
 Yeah but there were four of them there all needing accommodation feeding and a wage so that’s basically 5/6 entry fees and they all okayed to ride the course . The Marshall’s are all payed in the uk it’s not a lot most of the time it just covers fuel costs @russthedog:
  • + 1
 Bought a bucket of drywall compound the other day...label placed on it showing a baby face down in the bucket ...WARNING...DROWNING HAZARD!! This is the world we live in...Sad for her death
  • + 4
 Sort of puts the Lopes punch thread into some perspective. Such a tragedy.
  • + 1
 What solution are these people going for? You can put barriers in so the riders are injured more severely when they crash. Or, you can ban any spectator under 14 stone. Neither are practical.
  • + 1
 Very sad but anytime someone stands on the front lines and puts themselves this close to the action there's always a chance for collateral damage.
  • + 1
 I would hate to be the rider that crashed resulting in that death. You must just replay the moment over and over knowing why the crash occurred...
  • + 0
 Freak accident but unfortunatly British H&S laws permit the buck to stop at Mike. I hope he comes out of this without procecution as hes one of the UK's top race organisers in mtb.
  • + 2
 It seems a tragic accident that should never have ended in a court case Frown my thoughts with all involved.
  • + 2
 Gutted to see Kev duckworths name there. He's a grass roots race organiser in the north west UK. Good luck with the case,.
  • + 2
 This must be an absolute nightmare for everyone involved.
  • + 2
 Just think of rally car races
  • + 1
 How is Marsden supposed to have reported her death AT the competition when she only died later at the hospital?!
  • - 2
 Such a sad story.
What if the organizers would have taped sections further from the course for the spectators. What if those sections for spectators would have been marshalled. Maybe this could have prevented this tragic death. Maybe not, i don’t know. But life is precious and i strongly believe that it can be enjoyed and protected at the same time. All accidents can be prevented and safety is paramount.
  • + 10
 "all accidents can be prevented" I'd reconsider that point
  • + 1
 @matt5311: indeed. Human beings are imperfect. We make mistakes. We distinguish ourselves in how we deal with our faults.
  • + 1
 Sometimes an accident has to happen so we can learn from our mistakes and prevent them in the future.
  • + 2
 sad but a risk you assume as a spectator
  • + 2
 You can't teach situational awareness.
  • + 7
 yeah, you can
  • + 2
 The system is beyond broken!
  • + 2
 What an impossibly sad situation. My heart goes out to all involved.
  • + 0
 At least the rider in the last photo is showing the camera his chances of survival.
  • + 2
 RIP Frown
  • + 1
 My god, what an awful story for everyone involved. Ugh.
  • + 1
 who is charching the organisators/marshall the family or the police?
  • + 1
 Pretty much the government
  • + 1
 British Health and Safety Executive
  • + 0
 an accident is a series of mistakes always a attributable to some one. not an act of god ( insert your personal god /gods )
  • + 2
 Accident - "an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause."

The courts will decide if this was an accident or could have been prevented and if improvements in safety can be made - they should be.

But I think that it is wrong to say that any unfortunate event has someone behind it who is at fault or to blame - there is such thing as an accident.
  • + 1
 So sad.
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