GOODWIN.—On April 20, 1946, accidentally killed at Evansdale, June Kathleen, beloved only daughter of Mr and Mrs A. Goodwin, of 2 William street: in her eighteenth year — Interred yesterday at Anderson’s Bay Cemetery. — Hugh Gourley, Ltd., funeral directors. -Otago Daily Times, 23/4/1946.
RUN DOWN BY TRAIN
EVANSDALE BRIDGE TRAGEDY
The inquest was concluded yesterday afternoon into the death of June Kathleen Goodwin, aged 17, who was struck by the engine of a south-bound goods train while she and a companion (who jumped clear and broke her ankle) were proceeding across the railway bridge at Evansdale on Saturday afternoon, April 20. Miss Goodwin was killed instantly, and the Coroner (Mr H. W. Bundle, S.M.), who returned a verdict of accidental death, described the accident as a most distressing one and expressed sympathy with the relatives of the deceased. The relatives were represented by Mr G. B. P. Wilson, and Mr J. B. Deaker appeared for the Railway Department.
Lrna Anne Sutherland, aged 18, a clerk in a legal office, said that in company with Miss Goodwin she walked along the road under the bridge and then proceeded on to the railway line and on to the bridge. They were walking in a southerly direction. Miss Goodwin called out that there was a train coming. Witness was on the left hand side of the bridge, and Miss Goodwin was walking in the middle of the rails. She had only taken a few steps when she tripped and fell. Witness jumped down the embankment and broke her ankle in two places. She was not sure whether the whistle sounded, and she did not see the train either before or after the accident.
The Coroner: Did you go on to the bridge in a spirit of bravado? — I don't know why we went on to the bridge.
Elwyn Avison Newlands, the fireman of the train, which left Seacliff for Dunedin at 2.35 p.m., said that when the train was approaching Evansdale round a curve of about 30ft he caught a glimpse of a person in a light raincoat. He then saw two girls on the line, and sounded the whistle. Witness said he remarked to the driver on the presence of the two persons, but the driver could not see them because they were on the left of the rails and he was looking out of the right side of the cab. Witness noticed that the two girls had a frightened look on their faces, but at that stage he had no indication that there had been an accident. It was not until the train reached Dunedin that he was informed by a member of the train-running staff that there had been a fatality.
In reply to Mr Wilson, Newlands said that he doubted whether, if the girls had been noticed on the bridge, it would have been possible to stop the train in time. The regulation speed on this section of the line was 25 miles an hour.
David Townley, the driver of the engine, said that about a quarter of an hour after the train had left Seacliff the fireman said that there were two girls on the line and they had run down the embankment. He did not feel any jolt to indicate that anything had been run over, and it was not until Dunedin was reached that he was informed there had been an accident.
In reply to Mr Deaker, witness said that he did not see even the bridge round the bend towards Evansdale, as his view was obstructed owing to the curve.
In reply to Mr Wilson, witness said that no matter how careful a lookout was being kept by the fireman and himself the accident could not have been averted. The speed of the train was about 20 miles an hour.
Constable G. W. Gow, of Waitati, said that at 3.10 p.m. on the afternoon of the fatality he received word of its occurrence. The accident had happened about 27ft from the south end of the bridge, which was 132 ft in length and approximately 20ft above the roadway. In reply to the coroner, witness said that there was no provision on the railway line for foot passengers. It would be impossible for a person to stand on the bridge without being brushed off while a train was crossing.
DANGEROUS FOR PEDESTRIANS.
Questioned by Mr Wilson, witness said that the short-cut across the bridge was had on occasions crossed it himself at his own risk — but it was not used extensively. There was no notice at either approach to the bridge warning persons not to cross it. From the road access to the bridge could be obtained by clambering over a stone wall. The visibility of a pedestrian on the bridge was about 84 yards looking north along the line. Witness added that it was not a safe practice to use the bridge.
The Coroner reviewed the evidence, and said that possibly it was a spirit of bravado that had caused the two young women to walk across the bridge, and it was extremely fortunate that Miss Sutherland had managed to jump off the bridge. From the evidence the train was travelling at a regulation speed, although it appeared that the view of the driver and the fireman was very circumscribed coming round the bend. There was no need to anticipate that there was any person on the line. Strangely enough, the persons whom the fireman saw were two other girls farther up the line — Miss Anderson and Miss McMillan — and it was they who had jumped down the embankment. He was satisfied that the engine crew did not see either Miss Goodwin or Miss Sutherland owing to the curve.
Evidence was also given by Miss Marie Louise Anderson and Miss Donella McMillan, who were also on the line. "It is obviously a very dangerous bridge for pedestrians to be on," said the Coroner, "and anyone using it does so at his own risk. It is for the Railway Department to decide whether notices should be erected showing the danger, and further than that I don't wish to comment. The verdict is that Miss Goodwin was accidentally killed as the result of being struck by a railway engine at Evansdale." -Evening Star, 25/5/1946.