A CORONER is urging action over a dangerous road turning after a teenage cyclist suffered 'catastrophic' injuries when her bike hit the back of van and she was flung into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Assistant coroner Stephen Cavell is to write to Cornwall Highways about the 'acute' turning to Pencoose on Tubbons Hill near Stithians following the death there of 14-year-old Caitlin Swan, from Truro on December 28, 2019.

Her mother Victoria Swan told an inquest in Truro today that she and Caitlin had decided to go out on a bike ride the night before and had checked all their equipment.

Caitlin Swan. Picture Devon and Cornwall Police

Caitlin Swan. Picture Devon and Cornwall Police

She described Caitlin, a twin, as 'full of life' and someone who loved cycling, scuba diving and playing hockey and was in the Truro ladies team.

She had taken up road cycling enthusiastically a couple of years ago but had been mountain biking since she was little. She had a newish bike with all the proper safety gear and had completed the Dartmoor Classic doing 66 miles in June 2019. She went cycling regularly with her mother and regularly did 40 to 50 miles.

In a statement her mother said they had set off from their home address in Truro that morning taking the back roads via Kea and Devoran to Stithians, a route they had done three or four times before.

She said at one point when she was 'huffing and puffing' up the hill to Kea School her daughter teased her saying. "Come on mum, you shouldn't have had all those mince pies."

They stopped at Stithians for a break at around 1pm and then started to ride down Tubbons Hill. As she went down the hill, Caitlin went 20 feet in front of her and down on her 'drops' and moved her weight to the rear to make her more stable.

The acute left hand turn to Pencoose. Picture Google Maps

The 'acute' left hand turn to Pencoose. Picture Google Maps

Mrs Swan, a police officer, said: "I could see a white van was turning left, I could see Caitlin's body language change. I could see that she was slowing down, the arc of her back push back. I could see her thinking 'I'm going down a hill I'm all tucked up I'm fine'.

"It was something that was instilled in her when she was going out with really experienced riders in the group she went out with on Sunday mornings.

"She knew what she would have to do, just gently push back. So that's how I knew she was in the right position."

The junction is hidden as you approach the acute left hand turn on the right hand bend. Picture Google Maps

The junction is hidden as you approach the acute left hand turn on the right hand bend. Picture Google Maps

But Mrs Swan said rather than turning quickly the van was practically stationery because it was such a tight turn and she thought her daughter was expecting it to turn more quickly and it would be out of her way by the time she reached it.

"Caitlin got a "wobble' on," said Mrs Swan. "She would have seen the van turning left in front of her as she was coming down. I could see she was slowing down but she got a wobble on, whether she skidded slightly I don't know, but she got wobble on and it is very difficult to get out of a wobble. She seemed to on the back side of the vehicle turning left."

Caitlin, who went to Penair School, hit the back of the VW van and was flung into the path of another van driven by a courier and suffered unsurvivable injuries. The emergency services were there within minutes but, despite their best efforts, and the efforts of her mother and other drivers nothing could be done.

"Caitlin was 20 feet ahead of me and never stood a chance," she said. "Just before the crash we were laughing. She died doing something she loved.

"Caitlin and I had a very good relationship. There are not many kids who want to go shopping with their mum. Caitlin also loved to go scuba diving and play hockey. She played for Truro ladies. Caitlin lived lived life to the full.

"Caitlin and her twin sister had jobs at a bar serving food. They were both due to go to America in March 2020 on a school trip and they wanted extra spending money so started work."

Mr Cavell was told by the Crash Investigations Officer PC Melissa Innes that computer recordings showed Caitlin was averaging 35-36 mph going down the hill but had slowed to around 12mph before the collision.

She also confirmed that there were no warnings signs at all as you approached the turning to Pencoose which was on a bend.

Recording a verdict that Caitlin died of multiple 'catastrophic' injuries following a road traffic accident, Mr Cavell said: "Anyone taking that left hand turn has to slow down significantly in order to be able to take the turning. If there is no other vehicle approaching you can swing out into the opposite lane to turn, but if there is you have to turn very, very slowly."

He said she hit a glancing blow and was flung into the path of the approaching vehicle.

He said the approaching driver did not see anything until after the accident and Caitlin sustained catastrophic injuries and would have died instantaneously. She was declared dead at 14.18.

"All these events were seen by Caitlin's mother and I cannot imagine seeing those events unfolding to one of my children," said Mr Cavell.

He said he had concerns that there were no warning signs to the approach to the accident scene which is an acute junction.

He said action should be taken by the relevant highways authority on how that risk of death can be reduced and he will make a report and invite them to take appropriate action.