London cyclist crushed by truck: 'I took what I thought was my last breath'

Ross Lydall

A woman who was run over by a 32-tonne lorry in London as she cycled to work said she felt lucky to be alive.

Sarah Heanaghan, 29, was dragged under the tipper truck’s wheels as it pulled away from traffic lights in Whitechapel High Street in January.

She suffered severe spinal and leg injuries and still needs a wheelchair. Her lawyer has now helped secure an undisclosed sum from the lorry firm’s insurers to pay for rehabilitation.

Ms Heanaghan said: “I don’t feel angry at all. I do feel very lucky. I 100 per cent thought I was dying. I thought that was it, definitely no doubt in my mind.”

The collision happened as she turned right into Commercial Road. The lorry followed the same path but the driver was not aware she was in front of him.

She said: “I started off once the lights turned green. I was about 2m in front of him when he hit me, knocked me down and pulled me under. My hair was pulled back and he went on to my leg.

“I remember my chest being crushed and taking what I thought was my last breath.

"He stopped just before crushing my head. I was very lucky. I had black eyes for about six weeks from the pressure of the truck being on top of me.”

Passers-by had to shout at the driver to get him to stop and reverse.

Ms Heanaghan was treated by London’s Air Ambulance and LAS medics before being taken to Royal London hospital, where she had three operations in two months.

She then had three months of rehabilitation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. Ms Heanaghan, of Whitechapel, now plans to recuperate at her family home in New Zealand before returning to London next year.

Her injuries forced her to quit her job as bar manager at Mac & Wild restaurant in Devonshire Square, and she has been diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Police thought Ms Heanaghan had only suffered a broken leg and did not investigate. In a defence statement for the civil action, the lorry driver said he did not see her in his mirrors.

Jennifer Buchanan, a lawyer at Fieldfisher who represented Ms Heanaghan, said the payout would fund rehabilitation, housing and financial support.

She said it was hard to understand why this type of HGV, which sits high off the ground, giving the driver restricted vision, was allowed in London.