Belfast Telegraph

'I really, really miss him' says widow of biker during inquest into his death at North West 200

A Scottish motorcyclist died after losing control of his machine at 90mph during Northern Ireland's flagship road race, an inquest heard.

Mark Buckley (35) was catapulted off the vehicle and across the road during the North West 200.

His wheels lost adhesion at a bend on Station Road, Portstewart, last year and he sustained multiple injuries when he fell, senior coroner John Leckey said.

His mechanic raised safety concerns about that area during the inquest and protective bales have been installed ahead of this year's race.

Race incident officer Tony Harvey told the Belfast inquest: "The geometry of his machine would have been totally beyond control."

Mr Buckley was on the first lap of the Superstock race when the accident happened on on May 19 last year.

His widow Jane Buckley, married three years, cleaned his visor as he sat on the bike awaiting the start. Minutes later he was dead.

"His whole life revolved around racing. I miss him, I really, really miss him," she said following the inquest.

After reviewing a pathology report, the coroner said Mr Buckley died from extensive injuries which were not survivable.

The biker, a sales businessman from Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, had competed since 1998 and taken part in the North West 200, a thrilling nine-mile circuit on Northern Ireland's picturesque North Coast which attracts riders from across Britain and Ireland, for a decade. He rode in all classes and engine sizes.

The back tyre on his Aprilia machine lost contact with the road as he went around a right hand bend early in the race, jerking him from his seat and onto the ground, Mr Harvey said.

The skid is known as "high siding" and the expert claimed every rider in the world had experienced it.

Mr Harvey noted a catastrophic loss of control by Mr Buckley by the time his tyres were back on the surface, causing him to fall from the machine.

The victim was speedily treated but died in the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine after suffering serious injuries, assistant state pathologist Dr Peter Ingram's report said.

Mr Buckley's mechanic Paul O'Hanlon checked the fully working machine before the race but said he had relived every second of the death. He blamed bad luck but added a safety bale should have been placed between the garden wall and pole where the victim ended up.

Event director Mervyn Whyte said in 40 years of the North West 200 he had never seen a comparable accident on this part of the circuit.

"We carry out numerous risk assessments on the course, safety is a number one priority. We work to make sure it is as safe as we possibly can," he said.

Mrs Buckley said the father-of-two was in good form the night before and had no concerns about the next day's race.

"Racing was everything to him, he put every effort and everything in," she added.

Dr John Hinds, medical officer at the event, was at the scene within a minute of the accident and said the emergency operation went seamlessly.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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