KILLED ON THE RAILWAY.
BOY'S BODY FRIGHTFULLY MANGLED
DUNEDIN, April 29
James Anderson, aged fifteen, fell off the platform of a carriage in the Caversham tunnel last evening. He dropped under the train and was killed. His body was frightfully mangled. -Northern Advocate, 29/4/1911.
THE CAVERSHAM TUNNEL FATALITY.
Mr C. C. Graham, coroner, held an inquest at Fairfield on Saturday concerning the death of the lad James Anderson, who fell from the platform of one of the carriages of Friday's 5.15 p.m. train for Mosgiel while the train was passing through the Caversham tunnel.
John Anderson, the boy's father, identified the body.
John Hollows, aged 16, employed in the State coal office, said that he travelled on the train with deceased and another lad named McCallum. They were in the habit of travelling on one particular second-class carriage on this train, and as it was full the previous evening they stood on the platform of it. After leaving Caversham deceased crossed over to the platform of a first class carriage to have a better place from which to observe the Otago Central train when it passed them in the tunnel. Deceased went to lean on the gate of the platform on the first class carriage, which must have been open — it was too dark for witness to see whether it was or not — and fell out off the train. There was no skylarking going on among them. Witness thought that the gate was shut when the train pulled up at Caversham, but two passengers had left the carriage there, and possibly the gate had been left open.
George McCallum, aged 16, employed at the Otago Daily Times office, corroborated the evidence of the last witness, and denied that there was any skylarking going on. He himself could not see whether the gate was open or shut.
William Rush, railway porter at. Caversham, said that the stationmaster called on him to leave the signal box and go into the tunnel with a lamp, as Burnside advised that a boy had fallen off the train which had recently left. The stationmaster suspended traffic through the tunnel pending witness reporting himself at either Caversham or Burnside. Two porters left Burnside at the same time with a stretcher. Witness found the boy about a quarter of a mile from the Caversham end of the tunnel. Anderson was then quite dead. He was lying near the "down" road, with his face six inches from the right hand (or inner) rail. On the porters arriving with the stretcher the body was conveyed back to Caversham, whence it was taken to his father's residence.
Thomas F. Scully, guard of the train by which deceased was travelling, did not remember seeing him on the train that day. Witness was first informed of the accident by George McCallum when the train reached Burnside. Witness at once informed the stationmaster at Burnside, and suggested the suspension of all traffic through the tunnel. Witness instructed his two assistants on the train to remain at Burnside to form a search party to go into the tunnel. Witness had not noticed the gate of that carriage open at Caversham. Some passengers alighted at Caversham. Witness always kept a sharp look-out for open gates on the platforms, especially when leaving stations, and his two assistants, stationed one at the front and one in the centre of the train, were also instructed to do so. The boy fell off the platform of a first class carriage, and passengers holding second class tickets had no right on such platforms. Deceased had evidently crossed over to this platform while the train was in the tunnel. His train passed the Otago Central train about 300 yards from the Burnside end of the tunnel, so that the accident occurred before the two trains met. There was plenty of room on the train for all the passengers it carried. The boys would have had to go through one carriage to obtain seating accommodation.
William Johnston Will, medical practitioner; said he examined the body yesterday at Caversham station. There was a large scalp wound over the right temple and a deep wound at the back of the skull, where there was a depressed fracture. The face was covered with skin abrasions. There was a compound fracture of the right leg above the ankle. The injuries were quite sufficient to account for instantaneous death.
In reply to the Coroner, the witness Scully said the train was going about 20 miles an hour at the spot where the body was found. Possihly an axle box had struck deceased after he fell.
The Coroner said that the evidence showed that death was caused by an accidental fall from a train, and that no blame was attachable to anyone. The railway regulations were very explicit about passengers riding on platforms, and anyone doing so did it at his own risk. It was possible that at small stations, where trains did not stop long, an open platform gate might be overlooked, and the evidence did not show whether it was shut or open. Presumably it was open, or deceased would not have fallen out. The verdict was "Accidental death, caused by a fall from a train." -Otago Daily Times, 1/5/1911.
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