Robert MacTaggart, the driver of the council van involved in the crash that took the life of Scottish time trial star Jason MacIntyre last week, has spoken of his shock when he realised what had happened.
MacTaggart, 35, told Scotland’s Sunday Mail that he had made a right turn into the council depot on the outskirts of Fort William when he heard a loud noise. He said he was “stunned” when he realised his van and MacIntyre had collided.
He was subsequently breath-tested and questioned by police, but says MacIntyre’s death was not his fault. The test was negative and no charges have been laid against him, though a police spokesman told the paper, "A 35-year-old man is the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal."
MacTaggart’s story implies that he did not see MacIntyre. "I had just turned off when I heard a bang and felt the pick-up jolt slightly after an impact on the rear nearside,” he said.
"People assumed Jason was on the main A82 road but I don't believe he was. I think he was on the recently completed cycle path which runs parallel to the road and a few yards off it.
"The short road into the council depot cuts across the cycle track at right angles and I would have expected any cyclists to watch for vehicles on this road and wait until they have passed. I can only assume Jason did not notice me swinging off the main road into the side road.
"I was stunned. It was awful and I was totally shocked at being part of it.
"A couple of other council vans were leaving the depot and the guys and myself helped Jason into the recovery position."
MacTaggart expressed his sympathy for MacIntyre’s wife Caroline and twin eight-year-old daughters. "My heart and that of my wife goes out to Jason's wife and children,” he said. “It is a loss they'll never get over."
Whether or not MacIntyre was using the cycle path is likely to prove central to the investigation into his death. Riders using the path do not have priority over vehicles turning into or exiting the depot - 'Give Way' markings make this clear. A cyclist on the road, however, would - like all other traffic - have priority over on-coming vehicles seeking to turn right.
Zak Carr’s wife offers support
Cycling forums have been filled with memories and condolences since MacIntyre’s death. In particular, the Braveheart Fund forums have been a centre for riders to express their shock and sorrow.
Bev Carr, wife of English cyclist Zak Carr who was killed in 2005 when he was hit by a car whose driver was affected by lack of sleep, wrote, “I want to say how sorry I am to hear of another great tragedy within the cycling community, and to offer Jason’s wife and family all my love.
“I know exactly what she is going through after I lost Zak in Oct 2005. I know there are no words that help, and trying to keep yourself busy even with children to look after just doesn't work to help numb the pain.
“But you will pull through and the pain will get easier to cope with.
“All my thoughts are with you all.”
More than £12,000 has been raised to help Jason MacIntyre’s family. Donations can be made through the Braveheart Fund website.