THE friend of a woman who died after being struck by a cyclist said she went ‘flying’ before falling on the towpath, a jury heard.

Edward Bressan, 55, stands accused of causing injury to 81-year-old Polly Friedhoff on the River Thames towpath last November by cycling ‘wantonly or furiously’ on his B’Twin bicycle.

Ms Friedhoff, who retired from her job as St Antony’s College’s first public relations and development officer in the mid-2000s, was said to have been knocked to the ground during the collision near Iffley Lock on November 20, 2022.

READ MORE: Trial starts for cyclist accused of striking lady, 81, who later died from injuries

She died in hospital 12 days after the crash.

Bressan has denied the offence and is now standing trial at Oxford Crown Court.

During the trial opening on Monday (July 8), prosecutor Andrew Jordan said: “Ms Friedhoff was out for a walk with her friend Eva Huggins and their route took them on the towpath and they were heading north. They were in the area of the towpath at about lunchtime.

“Mr Bressan was on his bike and also using the towpath and also heading north. As he overtook the ladies, he struck Ms Friedhoff and she fell.

“She sustained serious injuries to her head, arms and ribs and she died 12 days later.

READ MOREScales of Justice: The latest cases from Oxford Magistrates' Court

“They were walking on the right-hand side of the path and Mr Bressan attempted to overtake them on the left-hand side and it was that manoeuvre that will be the focus of your [the jury] attention in this trial.”

Mr Jordan explained that the emergency services were called and Bressan was interviewed by the police.

During his interview, he said he had rang the bell on his bike and Ms Friedhoff’s friend had moved to the side to let him pass but Ms Friedhoff had moved into his path instead.

Giving evidence after the opening, Ms Huggin’s said Ms Friedhoff had gone ‘flying’ past her before falling on the towpath with ‘incredible force’.

She said: “I can still hear how her scalp hit…she didn’t have enough time to put her hands out, she just went straight onto her face.

“I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t hear a bell. Or quite often cyclists shout if they see pedestrians. And I didn’t hear a bell.

“I presume the bell wasn’t rung. [My hearing] was good.”

READ MORE: Man dies in two-vehicle crash while abroad

She explained that the cyclist had fallen after Ms Friedhoff and had picked himself up but her attention was focused on her friend.

“I actually thought she was dead,” she said. “She was laying terribly uncomfortably. I was trying to get some sign of life from her.”

The trial continues.