Smith, Richard

Smith, Richard        1889 August 17th

Fatal Accident to a Coal Carrier

On Wednesday afternoon Mr George Smith held an inquest at the Infirmary relative to the decease of Richard Smith, 36, a coal haulier, in the employ of the Radstock Coal Company (whose Salisbury agent is Mr Rivers). Mr Henry Blake was foreman of the jury.

The Coroner said the deceased was at work about a week ago conveying coal to Salterton, he believed. By some means or other the horse bolted and he tried to stop it, but slipped and the waggon went over his bowels. He was brought to the Infirmary, suffered about a week, and then died.

Jane Cannings, wife of Arthur Cannings, laborer, living at Salterton, was the first witness. She said that on Wednesday (August 7th) at about 11.15 am she saw two horses in a waggon galloping down the lane and for some distance deceased ran after them and subsequently overtook them. He caught hold of the horses by the head and tried to stop them, but was thrown down and the wheel went over him. She said to neighbour “He’s dead,” and at once ran for assistance. Robert Smith came. He was not related to the deceased. He was down in the meadow haymaking at the time. He picked up the deceased. Two or three neighbours came and washed his face and Robert Smith then carried him into a neighbour’s house. Deceased was quite sensible when thrown down. He said that he had been to Mrs Harrison’s with some coal and the horses started whilst he was there. In reply to a juryman the witness said that there were two little boys in the wagon. One had the reins and the other was holding to the side of the wagon. After the man was down the horses still ran, going right into the water. Some rails were knocked down.

Robert Smith, laborer, of Fordingbridge, said he was haymaking at Salterton, and heard the last witness call for assistance, which he rendered. When he got to the lane he saw the deceased on the ground. The horses had gone on into the river. Witness was too far off to hear the running away of the horses. The wind was the wrong way. He picked up the deceased and took him into a house. Deceased said, “I have some money in my hands,” and he opened his hand and scattered the money on the ground. He did not say how the accident happened. He had no chance. He fainted away. Witness left the deceased in the house and then went to the wagon and horses. Witness’s wife and two or three other persons were in the house. About two hours after the deceased was taken into the house witness assisted to put him into a spring cart for him to be brought to the Infirmary. Mr Truckle brought him in. Deceased was conscious when put into the cart. He asked if his horses were all right. The horses were not injured at all.

James Truckle, a groom in the employ of Mr Green, living at Cholderton, said that he brought the deceased to the Infirmary. He should think it was about one o’clock when he started. It was exactly two when he passed through Stratford. He arrived about three. He had to come very carefully. His wife met them at Stratford and he believed that deceased spoke to her. He did not take any notice of what he said.

Supt Mathews said that he had enquired of the eldest boy in the wagon, Richard Charles Smith, aged eight, the cause of the accident, and he stated that a bicycle went along the road, and frightened the horses, causing them to run away. Witness asked the child if he saw the bicycle and the boy stated that he did not. The distance from the cottage where the coal was delivered to where the horses had been standing was 73 yards. The wife of the deceased attributed the accident to there being a young horse which had not been broken in. In reply to the Coroner Mr Mathews said that he did not think the boys were thrown out. He believed they were taken into the river.

Henry Rivers (Salisbury Manager of the Radstock Coal Company) said that he believed that it was nearly eight o’clock when the deceased started in the morning. He took a four-wheel trolly drawn by two horses. Both horses were rising five years old. The rumor that one of the horses had not been broken in was not correct. The weight of coal on the trolly at the time of the accident was 14cwt.

The Coroner : Do you think it safe for only one man to be sent with a trolly where coal has to be delivered 75 yards away? We were not aware he supplied any coal there. I never heard that he did.

Do you know the weight of the wagon? About 11cwt.

Subsequently the witness said that the man would be supposed, if he had any dangerous place to go to, to let him know, to make any provision for that occasion. He heard nothing.

Questions were put as to the boys on the trolly. It appeared that previous to the day of the accident the deceased said that he could manage the horse referred to, and witness told him that he should have her (in the town), but should not go without somebody with her, because witness was to take great care of her. He (witness) said that he would pay a boy to stand at the head simply to say “whey” if it should move. He also said that if he had two probably they would play; two should not go. On the day in question the two boys on the trolly had no business there. The deceased was a very steady man.

William Charles Long, acting house surgeon at the Infirmary, said he examined the deceased on his arrival and found him in a condition of collapse. He discovered two bruises. The collapse from which he was suffering pointed to internal injury. He lingered until Tuesday, when he died. The immediate cause of death was peritonitis.

Some discussion took place as to whether blame attached to the Radstock Coal Company, Mr Scamell being of opinion that the horses (one of which, it seems, has not been in Salisbury long, having previously been engaged on a farm, though belonging to the Company) were not under such control as should have been provided. Mr Rivers made a statement to the effect that the horse specially alluded to was quiet, and he expressed an opinion that the animals did not run away but that one of the boys on the trolly caused it to go by taking hold of the reins. This view was apparently shared by the jury and there was a desire to have a verdict of “Accidental Death” recorded, but Mr Scamell wished there to be an addition stating that the animals were not under proper control. Mr Wells objected and declared that he would sit there a week rather then consent to such a verdict. Mr Scamell did not give way on the point, but was out-voted. There happened to be 13 jurymen altogether and as 12 are competent to return a verdict if they agree the Coroner appealed to each individually. Twelve declared in favor of a verdict of “accidental death,” Mr Scamell being the only dissentient, and that decision was duly recorded.


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