Much-loved Exeter dad killed in head-on crash on holiday

Steven Lentle died when his motorbike collided with a car while on holiday in Portugal
-Credit: (Image: Zoe Lentle)

A 'happy-go lucky' Exeter dad with a passion for motorbikes tragically died while on a biking holiday abroad after riding on the wrong side of the road. Steven Lentle, who was married and ran a successful painting and decorating business, set off for Portugal on his motorbike with three friends on May 23, 2022, after Covid restrictions had been lifted, an inquest heard.

They travelled through Spain and were enjoying riding through Portugal and had reached its highest point when on May 28, the group temporarily separated and split into two so that Mr Lentle could replace a tyre on his bike because he was concerned it might not last the duration of their trip.

He and his friend stopped off at a cafe for refreshments and set off after being told where he could purchase a replacement tyre and get it fitted. The inquest held at Exeter Coroner’s Court today, May 30, heard how Mr Lentle had ridden off first with his companion a short way behind him.

Read next:

In a statement, his friend, a former police officer, told how they had been friends for four years and had enjoyed previous biking holidays together abroad.

He described Mr Lentle as being a competent rider. He said: "He never gave me any cause for concern over his driving skills or abilities. His bike was well looked after in a good condition and he had had it for several years."

He recalled that although the tyre on Mr Lentle's bike was worn, it was still 'well within' the UK legal limits so it was his belief that it would not have caused or contributed to the collision.

Before setting off to get the new tyre, he said Mr Lentle had been 'overjoyed' to have found somewhere he could get a new tyre and had his 'usual good humour'. He recalled Mr Lentle had mounted his mobile phone to the bike to use it for navigation to find the tyre locations and then set off less than a minute before him.

He said: "I did not witness the accident. I only travelled half a mile when I came across it."

Hypthosing how the collision occurred, he suggested Mr Lentle may have had a 'temporary one-track mind' to purchase the tyre and had forgotten to ride on the right-hand side of the road or had been looking down at his phone for directions.

He said: "Tragically whatever the reason…it was of his own misfortune."

In a statement provided by police in Portugal, it was confirmed Mr Lentle had been travelling on the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with an oncoming car. He passed away at the scene of the crash and the cause of his death was multiple injuries.

Police told that when the driver of the car was questioned he insisted that he had been unable to avoid colliding with the motorbike as 'everything had happened very quickly'.

The driver said: "I only had time to brake and swerve to the left but I was unable to avoid the collision."

Steven Lentle died when his motorbike collided with a car while on holiday in Portugal
Steven Lentle died when his motorbike collided with a car while on holiday in Portugal -Credit:Zoe Lentle

Police added that traces of cocaine had been detected when the driver of the car was tested after the crash, but no criminal charges of manslaughter were brought against him as Mr Lentle had been riding on the wrong side of the road and markings on the road showed the car driver had attempted to swerve.

In its conclusion, police said: "It is not possible to determine the specific reason he [Mr Lentle] was travelling in the opposite direction than that established by law."

Instead, it was suggested that he may have 'unconsciously' entered the wrong side of the carriageway due to the country of origin he was from due to the 'absence' of making any corrections to the direction of his vehicle.

Recording a conclusion of road traffic collision, assistant coroner Luisa Nicholson, said: "It has been determined Steven was travelling on the wrong side of the road when he collided with a motor vehicle.

"For some reason, either because he was distracted by his phone or had momentarily forgotten what side of the road he should be on, he was not able to avoid the collision."

Paying tribute to Mr Lentle after the inquest, his wife Zoe and family said: "He was a happy-go-lucky, larger-than-life character. He got on with everyone he met.

"He was very much a family man spending many happy adventures with his wife, daughter, and his loyal companion Honey the dog, as well as enjoying time spent with friends.

"He ran his own successful business and had many hobbies from cycling and F1 , to learning to play the banjo. Obviously, he is missed hugely by family and friends and has left a huge hole in our lives."