Horton, Sidney

Horton, Sidney          1918 October 4th

Motor Bus Accident – Child Fatality in the Market Place

A sequel to a motor bus accident to a child named Sidney Horton in the Market Place over a month ago occurred on Tuesday when the boy succumbed to his injuries. An inquest was held by the City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) at the Salisbury Infirmary on Wednesday afternoon, when Mr T R Garland was appointed foreman of the jury.

Mrs Horton, the mother, said she resided at 22, Green Croft Street, and that her boy was four years of age. On Saturday, August 31st, he left home with his sister Doris, and she thought they were going into the Green Croft to play. Later in the morning, about 11, Doris came home and said that her brother had been knocked down by a motor car, and had been taken to the Infirmary. She called at the Infirmary every day afterwards but was not allowed to see her child until the previous Monday when the surgeon said there was no hope. The boy died on Tuesday at four minutes to four.

Henry John Babey, of New Road, Landford, said that on Saturday, August 31st, about 10.30 in the morning, he was driving his motor bus into the Market Place. When in front of the Council Chamber the conductress gave him the “all clear to reverse,” and when he had gone back about two yards she suddenly shouted to him to stop. He immediately did so and saw her picking up a little boy from the back wheel. She took him to the Infirmary, while he went and informed the police of the accident. From where he was driving he could not see anything. The bus was a long one, and when backing he relied upon the conductress to see that the coast was clear.

In reply to the Coroner, he did not know whether she was at the back of the ‘bus or not when she gave him the signal.

A Juror : Shouldn’t she be at the back of the ‘bus before she gave the all clear? If she was at the back I couldn’t hear her.

Hilda Legg, a soldier’s wife, of Landford, said she was the conductress. When the ‘bus reached the Market Place she jumped from the front of the ‘bus and gave the signal, and he reversed about two yards, when she saw a child, who seemed to come from nowhere, by the side of the back wheel. She immediately shouted “Stop,” and the driver pulled up at once. She picked up the child and took it to the Infirmary.

In reply to the Coroner, she said that when she jumped off she went two or three steps away from the ‘bus to see if all was clear. She did not see anybody near the ‘bus, and she could see all the back of the car but the further corner. She had been conductress for two years and always gave the all clear signal in the same way.

The Coroner : Didn’t it ever occur to you that it was not the best position in which to stand for telling the driver, who could not see? I can always see the back unless anyone comes from the other side.

Didn’t it occur to you if anyone came from the farther side that there might be an accident. The best place to find out if it was clear was to stand at the back? No, because the driver always looks round to the right of the ‘bus.

When you gave the signal all clear, you did not see any children playing about? I didn’t notice any at all.

In reply to other questions, she said there was a seat near the side of the ‘bus, about three yards away. There was a tail rack at the back of the bus.

Leonard Cannell, a greengrocer, of 53, George Street, said he was in the Market Place near the drinking fountain when he saw Mr Babey’s ‘bus. There were three children hanging on the back, but he did not know if the child who was knocked down was one of them. He called out to the children as the ‘bus passed to get off, but they took no heed. When the ‘bus stopped the back was hidden by the monument, and when he got nearer the ‘bus he saw the conductress picking up a child.

A Juror asked if it was usual for children to ride behind the ‘buses.

Witness said they did so occasionally. When the ‘bus came in the morning it went slowly and the children hung on it, but they never did when the ‘bus went out in the afternoon.

The child’s father, a private in the Labour Company (who was dressed in wounded soldier’s clothes), said that while the boy’s mother was reading an account of the accident from the Salisbury Times, the little girl Doris said they weren’t near the back of the ‘bus. She said they were on a seat, and Jimmie flung a bit of cardboard in the air, and went to get it, and the motor knocked him over.

A Juror said he was on the spot a few minutes afterwards and he heard people saying that the child had rolled off the seat.

Dr Tahilevitz, house surgeon of the Infirmary, said the child was suffering from a large lacerated wound on the right leg, and a smaller wound on the left ankle. Owing to the size and nature of the wound it became very septic, and as a result of his injuries the child died on Tuesday.

The Coroner said he did not think there could be any doubt that it was an accident; but it was for the jury to decide if proper care was taken by the conductress or the driver. Primarily it was the duty of the jury to settle the cause of death, but it was open to them to add a rider if they wished, so that in the future conductresses would stand in a position where they could see the while of the back of the car.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and added the following rider, that “Sufficient care was not taken by the conductress to ascertain if all was clear before giving the signal to back the car.”

A Juror : Prevention is better then cure.

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