Dwyer, Carol

Dwyer, Carol            1920 August 20th

Fall From A Window

Sad Death of Little Girl on Salisbury

An inquest was opened on Tuesday morning at Salisbury Infirmary by the Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) in connection with the death of a little girl named Carol Victoria Dwyer, aged six years, which occurred as a result of an unusual accident. It appears, from enquiries made, that the child was in the bedroom of the third floor of a house in Exeter Street on Sunday morning and was left there with a younger child for a few minutes while her mother went downstairs. The child’s bed was near the window and evidently she opened it when her mother left the room, and fell while looking out. She was taken to the Infirmary in an unconscious condition and died early on Monday morning.

At the inquest, Harold Victor Ford Miller, leading cook at the Naval Barracks, Devonport, stated that his home was at -9, Exeter Street, Salisbury, where he last saw the little girl alive and in good health on August 10th. She was his step-daughter. When he came to Salisbury on Monday his wife told him that the child fell out of the bedroom window on Sunday night. His wife was not in a condition to attend the inquest at present.

Dr Marjorie Hamilton King, house surgeon at the Infirmary, stated that Carol Victoria Dwyer was admitted at about 9.30pm on Sunday in an unconscious condition, suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, fractured frontal bone and right fore arm. She did not regain consciousness and died at about 2.30 on the following morning. Witness was told that the child had fallen from a bedroom window.

The Coroner adjourned the inquest till Monday, September 13th, in order to secure the attendance of the mother.

Adjourned Inquest 1920 October 1st

I will ignore the introduction and the recap of the previous inquest.

May Hinton, a widow, residing at the Friary, stated that about 9pm on August 15th, she was walking along Exeter Street in the direction of Harnham, when she heard a thud. She crossed the road, and found a child lying on the pavement, face downwards, outside No 88. The child was clad in a vest only. Witness picked her up and took her to the house. A doctor was sent for, and he ordered her removal to the Infirmary. Witness was informed that the child had fallen from the window.

Edith Elsie Dwyer, the mother, stated that Carol Victoria was six years of age. She had also another daughter, aged one year and seven months. On Sunday, August 15th, she retired to bed at about six o’clock with the two children, who slept with her. Later in the evening, about nine o’clock, she had occasion to go downstairs to let in Mrs Gay, who was coming to sleep with her, as there was no one else in the house. The bedroom contained two beds, and the children slept in the large bed, close to the window, which was of the casement type, opening outwards. She could not say whether the window was open or not. When she left the room the elder child was sitting up in bed. After having descended the first four stairs witness remembered that she had left the gas stove alight and returned to the room to warn Carol not to let the baby get out of bed and touch it. To her surprise she found the window open, and the child had disappeared. She called but had no response, and then realised that an accident had occurred. She went downstairs and opened the door to Mrs Hinton. The children had slept in this particular room for about a fortnight. The bed in which they slept would be about a couple of feet before the level of the window, and it would be quite easy for a child of six, leaning out of the window, to overbalance.

The Coroner : Did it not occur to you that this rather a dangerous place to have a bed?

Witness : The children had never been in the room alone before, and, therefore, it did not occur to me that it was dangerous.

You never had occasion to tell the children not to go near the windows? None whatever.

When you went downstairs did you happen to say that Mrs Gay is coming, and that you were going down to let her in? Yes.

The Coroner returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.” He said the cause of the accident was readily apparent, but he could not let the case go by without saying that he felt that although the mother had stated that she never left the children alone in the house, and there as not such negligence as to make it criminal, yet she should have known that this was a most dangerous place for the bed to be, and doubly so when there were two young children sleeping on it, with only this small space between the bed and the window. He had very carefully considered what the mother had said with regard to the fact that this was the first time the children had been left alone, and that she made a point of not leaving them, but he was afraid that did not alter the fact that there should have been bars to the window, and he felt in this respect that, though there had possibly not been negligence, greater care should have been taken to prevent young children from so easily falling out of the window, as one them actually did.

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