Donaldson, James

Donaldson, James             1917 November 23rd

Ex-soldier’s Death

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) held an inquest on Tuesday evening at the infirmary in connection with the death of James Donaldson, a chauffeur, which is understood to be due to injuries caused by a fall from a motor cycle which he had taken out for a trial run at the request of its owner. No evidence of the accident was given, as the witness could not reach Salisbury in time, and the inquest was accordingly adjourned. The coroner explained that certain circumstances necessitated the opening of the inquest that evening.

Mr W Osmond was chosen foreman of the jury.

Harriett Rose Donaldson said that her husband was employed as a chauffeur at Bapton, and was 33 years of age. He was a discharged soldier, and except to an injury to his foot, for which he got his discharge from the Army, he was in good health. On Monday he left home after dinner at about 1.20, saying he would be back soon. Shortly afterwards she was told he had met with an accident but she must not be alarmed. When she went out she met a motor car in which her husband was being taken to the Infirmary. She accompanied him there and stayed with him until he died at 7 o’clock.

Miss D’Abrue, house surgeon, said that Donaldson was admitted at 3.45pm, on Monday, in an unconscious state. He did not regain consciousness, but became worse and died at 7 o’clock in the evening. Death was due to fracture of the base of the skull.

In reply to the Foreman, the doctor said that everything possible was done for the injured man.

The Coroner expressed regret that the other witness had not arrived and he adjourned the inquest till 6pm, on Monday, at the Council Chamber.

Adjourned Inquest 1917 December 7th

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson), at the Council Chamber on Tuesday evening, concluded an inquest concerning the death of James Donaldson, a chauffeur, from Bapton. It had been three times adjourned, first on account of the non-appearance of a witness ; secondly, because of the illness of the Coroner, and, thirdly and lastly, on account of the non-appearance of a juryman.

When asked to explain the cause of his absence by the Coroner, the juryman said he had a mishap with his car on the road through Handley and could not get back in time. When he took the job he had plenty of time. He started at eight minutes past four to do 14 miles out and 14 miles back again.

The Coroner said he supposed that if he took on the job at four o’clock he had a fairly good margin of time, but he thought he had no business to do so when he knew he had to be back in Salisbury at six o’clock. It resulted in he (the Coroner) and six jurymen wasting an hour of their valuable time, they also brought in a witness from Codford and cost the ratepayers ten or twelve shillings. The Coroner hoped he would not be late next time as it caused a lot of inconvenience.

The inquest was then proceeded with, and evidence concerning the accident was given by James Ralph Sawtell, a trooper in the Southern Rhodesian Police, South Africa, at present on sick leave and staying at Bapton. He said he bought a motor cycle to take back to South Africa and had it sent to Bapton. Donaldson, who was an expert motor man, overhauled it and added new parts, and on Sunday, November 18th, tried it and it appeared in order. On the following day he got it out in his dinner hour to give it a final test. He went down the road about 400 yards, turned, and was coming back at from 10 to 15 miles an hour, when he swayed and fell off. Witness ran to him and found him unconscious. Dr Penruddocke was sent for and ordered his removal to the Infirmary. He could not account for the accident, and, as far as he knew, the cycle was absolutely in order.

The Coroner recalled the evidence given when the inquest was opened, and stated the doctor said that death was due to fracture of the base of the skull.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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