A GOOD Samaritan said he was shocked after being accused of stealing a bike from a man who was killed in a traffic smash.
Self-employed Darren Mitchell stopped to help 55-year-old Stan Coates, who was hit by a car while on his bicycle in Burdon Lane, near Doxford Park, at about 4.45pm on Friday.
After spotting the injured cyclist, 38-year-old property manager Darren pulled his blue van up on the country lane to lend a hand.
He offered to drop Mr Coates’s bike off at his home in West Herrington and gave him his mobile number.
But the rider never got in touch and Mr Mitchell was shocked to find out the next day that he had been killed while swapping details with a driver at the scene.
He said: “I had been to the tip at Thompson’s in Sunderland, and was heading home along Burdon Road, when I saw someone at the side of the road on a bike and thought he had a flat tyre.
“As we got closer, I saw another lad there and another car parked further up and saw he had been hit.
“We stopped and asked if he was OK and he said no he wasn’t.
“I asked the lad who was with him if he had rang an ambulance and he said no, so I told him to ring one.
“I pulled up and got out to see what things were like and the lad who was with him was on the phone to ambulance.
“I got talking to Stan, who said he was on his way home.
“I asked if he wanted me to take his bike home with me, in case they could not get it in the ambulance.”
It was not until a friend rang him the following day that he found out police were investigating Mr Coates’s death.
And he was horrified to read angry comments left on the Echo’s website, after the police released information saying the cycle had gone missing from the accident scene.
Mr Mitchell, who is originally from Ryhope, said: “People think I have stolen the bike, but I was the only one out of 15 to 20 cars that stopped.
“I was shocked, to be honest, because they don’t know the facts. I was trying to do a good deed.”
Despite being airlifted by the Great North Air Ambulance to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Mr Coates’s injuries to his back and pelvis were too severe to save him and he was pronounced dead.
The 24-year-old driver of the first car which collided with Mr Coates was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
No arrests have yet been made in connection with the accident.
Both cars involved were Vauxhall Corsas.
Officers are still appealing for witnesses to the incident which led to Mr Coates’s death to contact them on the non-emergency 101 line.