A CYCLIST who died in the New Forest would have survived if she had been wearing a crash helmet.

Now a coroner has issued a warning to cyclists following the death of Keren Zhang.

The 26-year-old died after suffering severe head injuries, including a skull fracture, an inquest heard.

She was cycling in Brockenhurst with a group of friends when she fell cycling down a hill.

Winchester Coroner’s Court heard Ms Zhang and six others had rented bikes from Cyclexperience near Brockenhurst railway station.

Despite being offered and free of charge, Ms Zhang, a markets risk manager, chose not to wear a helmet.

Ms Zhang, of Baltimore Wharf, London, had travelled with her friends from the capital to the New Forest for the day.

The group spent around two hours cycling, stopping occasionally for breaks and to take photos, before Ms Zhang lost control cycling down a hill on Church Lane and fell off, hitting her head on the road.

Paramedics rushed to the scene, where she was initially treated, before being taken to Southampton General Hospital.

Ms Zhang’s mother, who had travelled from China and was with a number of Ms Zhang’s friends and family members at the inquest, questioned through an interpreter why she had not been immediately transferred to hospital.

Defending the work of paramedics, Dr Robert Summerhayes, who treated Ms Zhang at the scene, said that by treating her at the roadside, she was able to get more critical care as soon as she arrived at the hospital.

He added that various phases of the treatment had been carried out quicker than the national average.

Ms Zhang’s mother, who become visibly emotional during the inquest, raising her voice while speaking through an interpreter, also questioned why her daughter’s heartrate had spiked after receiving treatment at the scene, but this was put down to the damage caused to her brain stem.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, senior coroner Grahame Short said he couldn’t explain why Ms Zhang had lost control.

He added: “On the balance of probabilities, I believe she could have survived if she was wearing a helmet.

“I must stress that cycle helmets do save lives. This case illustrates the risks of not do so.”