American cyclist died after his brakes failed at notorious Yorkshire Dales accident black spot Dibbles Bridge

An American man who had lived in Yorkshire for almost 20 years was killed in a horror crash after he lost control of his bike on a steep descent in the Dales.

66-year-old cyclist Craig Barnhart died at Dibbles Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales
66-year-old cyclist Craig Barnhart died at Dibbles Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales

An inquest opened today into the death of Craig Barnhart, 66, at Dibbles Bridge in April.

Mr Barnhart was originally from Colorado but moved to Yorkshire for his work as an engineer around 20 years ago. He lived with his wife Anna at Bewerley, near Pateley Bridge.

Assistant coroner for North Yorkshire Jonathan Heath opened the inquest by summarising the events leading up to Mr Barnhart's death.

The keen outdoorsman, who also loved hiking and skiing, was cycling along the B6265 between Pateley Bridge and Grassington on April 22.

He was riding an electric bike and is it believed the brakes failed, leading to him losing control on the notoriously steep descent at Dibbles Bridge. He then struck a wall and fell 20ft, suffering fatal injuries.

The full circumstances will be ascertained when the inquest is heard at a later date.

A tribute website set up in Mr Barnhart's memory included the following statement: "Craig’s job took him to England, where he and Anna lived for the past 19 years. During this time, they travelled extensively throughout the world. Craig loved to play! He was a strong skier, long distance hiker and had an extra fondness for cycling. Most days he cycled to work, a 20-mile round trip.

"He enjoyed his life immensely, surrounded by so much love and admiration from especially Anna, both their families, co-workers, friends within the Yorkshire Dales countryside community and, of course, his native state of Colorado. He once said to Anna, 'Living here in the dales is like being on holiday every day!' Craig loved life fully and his life ended with no regrets for a life well-lived."

Dibbles Bridge is an accident black spot and has been the scene of two fatal coach crashes caused by brake failure. It is notorious for the steep descent from Fancarl Top to the bottom of the valley at Grimwith Reservoir and has also claimed the lives of two other cyclists in recent years.

In 2015, cardiologist Dr George Ballard fell 50ft into the River Dibb after colliding with the bridge and died. He was thrown over his handlebars in the collision while cycling with his friend Dr Nick Hayward, whom he had overtaken before the descent to Dibbles Bridge. The 41-year-old from Ben Rhydding, near Ilkley, worked at Leeds General Infirmary and had a wife and two children.

In 2014 Skipton cyclist James Nelson was also killed in similar circumstances at the same spot. The 32-year-old was on a training ride with Skipton Cycling Club when his brakes locked on the descent and he fell into the river bed below. His body was not found until the next morning by Environment Agency workers surveying the river.

Safety barriers have since been erected.

In 1925, seven people on a group trip from York to Bolton Abbey died when their coach's brakes failed on the descent and it failed to negotiate the bend at Dibbles Bridge.

A similar accident occurred in 1975 when 33 pensioners from Thornaby-on-Tees on an outing to Grassington were killed when their vehicle lost control and struck the bridge parapet.