A lorry driver has told of the horrifying moment he realised he had run over a 'much loved' worker at Southampton docks.

Lee Early was killed after being hit by the heavy goods vehicle on Western Avenue, Southampton, at around 5.50am while on his usual bike ride to work.

The Scania driver, Richard Hill, only realised the tragedy when the noise of Mr Early's bicycle caught under the lorry caused him to stop and inspect his vehicle.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to Southampton man who died in collision at docks

Daily Echo: Lee Early.Lee Early. (Image: Hampshire Constabulary.)

Speaking at the inquest into the 54-year-old's death at Winchester Coroner's Court, he said: "All I saw was a bicycle.

"A person had run over and told me 'I think you just hit a cyclist'.

“I was horrified. If I saw him I would have stopped. I would have done something about it."

The inquest heard how Mr Hill was at the docks on Thursday, November 11, 2021 to pick up a loaded container, as he did five or six times a week.

He said the dock was closed at the time due to heavy fog and lorries were queueing on the road.

So he overtook them - just as Mr Early, of Gove Road, pulled out in front of the lorry, the inquest heard.

Mr Early's body was found further down the road and he was pronounced dead at the scene by the emergency services.

A previous inquest hearing was told that a police officer identified Mr Early by one of his tattoos.

Area coroner, Jason Pegg, said the stepfather suffered an 'unsurvivable' head injury and described the incident as 'dreadful'.

He said: "This was something which was an awful meeting of various circumstances.

“At the time Mr Early swerved in front of Mr Hill’s cab, Mr Hill quite rightly decided to move off.

“At which point, the vehicle drove over not only the bicycle, but Mr Early himself.”

Addressing Mr Hill, a qualified HGV driver, the coroner added: “In no way are you in any sort of fault or blame.”

Mr Hill said he checked all his mirrors and his blind spot before moving off - and conceded that the fog contributed to him not seeing Mr Early.

In the wake of his death, Mr Early's family described him as a 'very much loved fiancée, stepdad, brother, uncle and great uncle who has sadly been taken away from us all in the most tragic way'.

“He will be forever loved and stay forever in our hearts", they said.

Mr Pegg concluded that Mr Early's death was due to a road traffic collision.