Family of volunteer blood biker who died In Lancaster crash while transporting blood speak of devastating loss after inquest

The devastated family of a much-loved volunteer blood biker who died while transporting vital stocks have spoken out following an inquest into his death.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 10:40 am
Russell Curwen.
Russell Curwen.

Russell Curwen, 49, from Kendal, was involved in a collision with a Jaguar in Caton Road close to the A683 junction with the Bay Gateway in Lancaster during the evening of May 5 2018.

He was a volunteer with North West Blood Bikes (NWBB) and, at the time of the incident, had been conveying items on behalf of the NHS with his blue lights on.

He was airlifted to hospital but died from his injuries shortly afterwards. The driver of the Jaguar sustained minor injuries.

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Russell Curwen.

Following Russell’s death, his family instructed road accident lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to support them through the inquest process.

An inquest took place at Ribble Valley Town Hall in Clitheroe, concluding on Monday. The assistant coroner reported that the collision occurred at a speed of 34mph, finding that the vehicle speed prior to the application of brakes must have been higher, and said that had the driver of the Jaguar been travelling at a lower speed, on the balance of probabilities, “there may have been a greater opportunity to avoid the collision” with more time for both vehicles to “identify the hazard.”

Consideration was also given to the training that Russell was provided by the NWBB.

Harriet Trail, the specialist road accident lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Russell’s loved ones, said after the hearing: “Russell was such a kind-spirited person and a great example of those who give up their time and go out of their way to help others in real need.

"He was passionate about helping people and this led him to volunteer with the North West Blood Bikers, a charity that the family are huge supporters of.

“The past few years have been incredibly difficult for his family as they have understandably struggled to come to terms with losing him so suddenly and in such tragic circumstances.

“While nothing can make up for the pain that the family continue to face, or make up for their devastating loss, we’re pleased that we have at least been able to help secure them the answers they deserve.

“Russell’s death is a stark reminder of the devastation families can be left to face because of collisions on the road. We would urge road users to take care at all times and travel at appropriate speeds to allow motorists to react to any potential hazards.”

Russell was a much-loved son of Kenneth and Pat, both 80. He was also brother to Philip, 56, and Susan, 54, and a doting uncle to his nieces and nephews.

He began his volunteer work with NWBB in 2016.

Since his death, many tributes have been paid to Russell. This included three new blood bikes being named after him – one in Kendal and two in Dublin.

Meanwhile, the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has a Russell Curwen Blood and Science Laboratory, and the city also hosts The Russell Curwen Memorial Games.

Following the inquest conclusion, Kenneth said: “Russell had a very caring nature and always sought to put others before himself. He was greatly loved by his family, friends and all who knew him, and he’s missed every single day.

“For Pat and myself, it has been particularly difficult as Russell lived with us and we miss his presence around the house, his beaming smile and comforting voice. Susan and Philip also feel a great sorrow at losing their beloved brother and still find the whole thing very difficult to come to terms with.

“The impact and devastation on our lives since Russell was taken from us cannot be underestimated. He was everything to us and we’ve all been left with a massive hole in our lives that no amount of time will ever fix. However, we do take some comfort in the fact that Russell died doing what he loved and helping others.

“The inquest has been incredibly tough, having to relive everything, but we are grateful that we now have some answers.

“All we can do now is ensure that the memory of Russell is kept alive, and through all of us we continue to raise awareness of the blood bike community and the wonderful job they do as a voluntary service.”