Viney, Mary

Viney, Mary         1918 September 13th            Winterbourne Gunner

A Post Woman’s Death

A verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held at the Infirmary by the City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) on Monday evening, touching the death of Mary Viney, who was knocked off her bicycle by a motor car at Winterbourne Gunner.

James Viney, a platelayer on the London and South Western Railway, living at Winterbourne Dauntsey, said that Mary Viney was his wife, and that she was 51 last birthday. She was a postwoman at Winterbourne Gunner Post Office. He last saw her alive at 5.30 on Sunday morning when she was in good health. Later in the morning he heard there had been an accident and that his wife was PC Hosey’s house.

Driver Febrey, MT, ASC, stationed at Porton, said he was driving a car about 9.15 on Sunday morning from Porton to Winterbourne Gunner and on nearing the cross-roads he blew his horn and slowed down to about eight miles an hour. When the car was passing the cross-roads a lady cyclist came out of a road on the left. She tried to avoid the car but the near side struck her. He pulled up within 14 or 15 yards, and went with his companions to the woman’s assistance. He knew the cross-roads well and always drove carefully there. From the time he saw the woman until the car struck the bicycle he could not do anything, as it all happened in a second.

Replying to questions from the jury he said the road was not very wide and that it was a concealed turning. He did not think the woman could see the car coming.

Sergt Holland, RFA, stationed at Porton, who was in the car, said that on reaching the cross-roads the driver slowed down and sounded his horn. Hearing no response the car picked up speed again to about nine or ten miles an hour, when suddenly a lady cyclist appeared, and he recognised her as Mrs Viney, the local postwoman. They collided immediately and it all happened instantaneously. She attempted to swerve to avoid the accident but the near side of the car struck the front wheel of the bicycle. The driver pulled up, and with the help of Sergt King who was travelling in another car behind, they took her into PC Hosey’s house. He went for a doctor in the car and fetched Dr Armitage.

A juror : How far did the car travel after it struck Mrs Viney? The driver pulled up in about eight yards.

Sergt King, RGA, stationed at Porton, said he was travelling in a car behind the previous car. He saw the cyclist try to swerve, but the accident happened so quickly that she could do no more than move the front wheel. He heard the driver sound his horn before he got to the cross-roads.

Pte Smeeton, of the MT, ASC, who was with the sergeant, corroborated.

PC Hosey, stationed at Winterbourne Gunner, said that Mrs Viney was brought to his house and placed on a sofa. The width of the road was 19 feet 2 inches. From the place where the bicycle touched the car until the car stopped was 15 yards. He examined the car and saw that the bicycle struck it on the centre of the near side at the door.

A Juror : It is a very dangerous corner? Yes, it is. You can’t see five yards either way. It is a very blind corner. He added that the Government had cut down a hedge and replaced it with barbed wire so that people could see traffic coming, and that further improvements would soon be made.

Dr Kathleen O’Donnell, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said that Mrs Viney was admitted in an unconscious condition and died half an hour after admission. The cause of death was fracture of the base of the skull.

It was suggested that a notice board should be put up warning traffic of the dangerous cross-roads, and an officer (who was the driver’s commanding officer) said he was sure the Colonel would do so. Febrey was a very careful driver.

A juror said that accidents could be avoided if drivers were more careful about sounding their horns. The corners were very dangerous at Winterbourne, and he thought it would be better if motor drivers sounded their horns before they reached corners or cross-roads, and not when they were right on them.

A member of the Post Office staff, who said he represented the Postmaster, expressed sympathy with Mr Viney in the death of his wife, and spoke highly of her work. She was a model postwoman in every way.

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