AN EXETER inquest has heard that a cyclist from Zeal Monachorum, who was halfway through a charity cycle ride across three continents, died from a severe head injury after being hit by a 4x4 vehicle.

Sharon Bridgman was fatally injured in a collision with a Toyota Land Cruiser on April 26 2014 when travelling through Bolivia with her husband Tim on their North 2 North Cycle Tour.

The collision took place on a dirt track while crossing the world's largest salt flats — the Uyuni — close to the Bolivian and Chilean border. The couple were raising money for disaster aid charity ShelterBox.

The 38-year-old was cycling around 200 metres behind her husband Tim on soft sand when the accident occurred.

Mr Bridgman told the inquest of his desperate efforts to save his wife. The couple were travelling with special equipment that could call emergency services but due to the remoteness of where the accident happened, it took police five hours to reach them.

When they arrived the driver was arrested and Mrs Bridgman was taken to Hospital Jose Eduardo Perez, where a post-mortem examination took place. The examination concluded that she died from cranial trauma, poly trauma and a severe fracture to her left leg.

Tests back in the UK concluded that she died from a base of skull fracture. The driver involved in the crash was given a three-year suspended sentence in Bolivia.

Assistant coroner at Exeter Lydia Brown said the exact circumstances of the accident could never be ascertained and that Mrs Bridgman had died from her injuries on impact.

The couple, who were both members of Okehampton Cycling Club, had been cycling around the world since June 2012.

They began in northern Norway and arrived in South Africa on November 19, 2013. They then travelled to Ushuaia in Argentina to start what should have been a long ride to Alaska in the United States. Before the collision in Bolivia, Mr and Mrs Bridgman had travelled without major incident.

When the news broke of Mrs Bridgman's death, the couple's fundraising total stood at around £1,200. Within hours, thousands of pounds poured into the fund and donations soared to more than £13,250, smashing their target of £10,000.

Mr Bridgman is now planning to take the heart-breaking trip back to Bolivia to complete the rest of their journey later this year.