Motorcross rider dies in race tragedy

A TALENTED young Essex motocross rider has died in a tragic accident during a race in Shropshire.Richard Fitch, 21, of Halstead Road, Fordham, was killed when he rode his bike over a jump during a leg of the DEP 125cc series held at Hawkstone Park, near Weston-under-Redcastle.

By Roddy Ashworth

A TALENTED young Essex motocross rider has died in a tragic accident during a race in Shropshire.

Richard Fitch, 21, of Halstead Road, Fordham, was killed when he rode his bike over a jump during a leg of the DEP 125cc series held at Hawkstone Park, near Weston-under-Redcastle.

He was taken by air ambulance to the trauma unit at the North Staffordshire University Hospital after the crash, which happened at around 3pm on Sunday.


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His father Christopher had been at the motocross event, where Mr Fitch represented the Halstead and District Motorcycle Club (Halstead DMCC), and was also taken to the hospital, where the rider was pronounced dead.

Paramedics battled to save his life at the scene of the tragic accident but he suffered severe and fatal head injuries.

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Yesterday Karen Barker, whose husband Chris runs the DEP 125cc competition, said Mr Fitch had been second in the race when the crash happened.

She added: “Richard was having his usual flying, top-class race day. He was in second place and battling for first when he came off his bike.

“Unfortunately it's still quite sketchy to say exactly what happened - whether there was a mechanical fault or he took the jump wrongly - but he fell to the ground and tragically died.”

Mrs Barker said it was still unclear whether the competition - which is open to 125cc bike riders from across the country - would be cancelled for the rest of the year.

Next Sunday's stage had been due to be held at Halstead DMCC's own home venue, at Wakes Colne, and would definitely not take place, she added.

“I knew Richard very well,” she continued. “My husband did as well, since he was a young lad. He was very close to him and the family.

“I went to the hospital with Richard's dad where they broke the news. He was devastated.

“Richard was such a well-liked lad. There was no wrong in him whatsoever. “He lived for racing - it was his whole life. It is horrible this had to happen to such a wonderful family.”

Mr Fitch was a highly-rated rider - his first race was at the age of 10 - and rose at his club from schoolboy through youth to adult rider status.

Tony Adams, secretary of Halstead DMCC - which has around 45 riding members - said news of his death had come as a terrible shock.

“He was a very forceful rider and a very popular rider,” he added. “He had been doing very well in the Supercross series.

“He had just got back in the swing of things after some injuries when unfortunately this happened.

“It is very seldom there is a fatality and when it happens it hits everyone very hard.

“He was a very athletic and likeable young man. It is very sad.”

Yesterday chairman of the club, Ray Game, said: “I am sure you can appreciate the way Richard's parents are feeling at the moment.

“We are having a club meeting tomorrow to see where we can help.

“We are all in very deep shock.”

A spokesman for the Shropshire County Air Ambulance said an emergency call had been received at 3.08pm on Sunday to reports that a rider had come off his bike.

“It appears he went over the handlebars of his motorbike on the motocross track.

“He was air-lifted to the resuscitation trauma unit at the north Staffordshire University Hospital by the air ambulance after suffering severe head injuries,” the spokesman added.

Dave Williams, the chairman of Salop Motor Club, that runs events at Hawkstone Park, said Mr Fitch's accident marked the first fatality in the 60-year history of the venue, which over the decades has seen some of the best off-road bikers race.

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