'Heartwarming' Twist After Cyclist Sued For Hitting Pedestrian On Phone
More than AU$100,000 has been raised for a cyclist who was ordered to pay compensation to a woman who stepped in front of him while on her phone.
Robert Hazeldean ploughed into yoga teacher Gemma Brushett near London Bridge in July 2015.
She was on her phone when she stepped out. Despite Hazeldean sounding his horn and swerving, the pair collided, both were knocked unconscious.
Last week judge Shanti Mauger ruled that while the pair were "equally culpable" for the incident, Hazeldean would need to pay Brushett more than £4,000 -- 7,316 Aussie dollars -- in damages and potentially legal bills which he fears could top £100,000 -- $182,000.
Judge Mauger said that Hazeldean was a "calm and reasonable road user" but added that "cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways".
It's a decision that left the cyclist reeling.
Soon after his story went public, a GoFundMe page was set up by a close friend to help cover Hazeldean's legal fees.
According to the page, Hazeldean was on his daily commute home from his job at a mental health charity, he had ridden through a green light and had done everything in his power to stop the collision.
"The cost to Robert -- one of the kindest, most gentle and responsible people I have the privilege of calling a friend -- is likely to bankrupt him," it read. "I [a good friend of the cyclist] have started this crowdfunder in the hope that we might be able to ease some of that financial burden".
Within four days, 3,820 people had donated a staggering £55,004 -- more than $100,000 -- double the initial goal.
"The decision seems grossly unfair and hopefully this will show you that people understand and care," one donator wrote.
"I donated because it is ridiculous that you are being held to account for another person's jaywalking, and another person's bizarre court judgement," said another.
Other's shared similar encounters as they handed over donations.
While the full extent of the costs remains unknown, Brittany Maher-Kirk, the woman behind the page, has vowed to donate any extra cash to Action Aid.
"Robert has sponsored a child through Action Aid for the last 13 years, and sadly due to the financial pressures around the case has had to recently stop," she wrote.
Hazeldean, who now lives in France, took to Twitter on Monday night to thank the thousands of strangers for their support.
"I never imagined I would receive so much support -- as staggering as it is heartwarming," he wrote. "I doubt I can ever adequately express what this has meant to me and my loved ones."
"With luck, the incredible generosity of the thousands who have messaged and donated will go far beyond the final costs demanded of me, and the majority will go to charity".