A serious gun accident occurred at Whare Flat, near Dunedin, on Saturday afternoon to a young man named George Blacke — brother of Miss Blacke, recently of Balclutha — who was out shootiug with another young man, Charles Irvine, son of General Irvine. At the time of the accident Blacke was kneeling down to shoot a rabbit, while his companion, some few yards away, was aiming over his head. At the moment the latter fired Black unhappily stood up suddenly and received the charge in the back of his head. What could be done on the spot was done, and intelligence was at once conveyed to the police in Dunedin. The news reached town at about 9 p.m., and the services of Dr de Zouche were obtained, who drove out promptly, accompanied by Constable Duggan. The doctor dressed the wound, and Blacke was then taken into town with all care in a dray lent by a settler. The journey had to be slowly accomplished, and it was after 5 o'clock on Sunday morning when the sufferer reached the hospital. The medical examination showed that he had suffered a compound fracture of the vertex of the skull, and an operation was found necessary, which was later in the day performed by Drs G. Macdonald and Hocken. They removed a number of pieces of bone, and found that the brain tissue was lacerated. It was not expected he could recover, but he still survives, and there is an old saying that while there is life there is hope. -Clutha Leader, 16/11/1888.
Blacke. — On the 27th November, at Dunedin, George Andrew Randall, younger son of David Eatler and Annie Blacke; aged 20. -Clutha Leader, 30/11/1888.
DUNEDIN, Nov. 27.
George Blacke, the young man who was injured on Nov. 10 by receiving in the back of his head the charge from the gun of Irvine, his companion, while out rabbit shooting, died to-night. -Lyttelton Times, 28/11/1888.
An inquest was held yesterday morning at the hospital before Mr E. H. Carew, coroner, and a jury of six, touching the death of George Andrew Randall Blacke. Inspector Weldon watched the proceedings on behalf of the
James U. Blacke, a bank clerk residing at Heriot row, identified the body shown to the jury as that of his brother. He was a native of Belfast, Ireland; had been 13 years in the colony, and was a law clerk by occupation. Witness knew Charles Irvine, who was a great friend and constant companion of the deceased. They went out shooting together on the 9th inst., and witness subsequently saw them at Flagstaff at a distance. Both were accustomed to the use of firearms. They had intended to stay out shooting a couple of days. Witness next saw his brother in the hospital on Sunday, the 11th inst. He was then suffering from a wound. He never became sufficiently conscious to give an account of how the accident happened. Mr Irvine had frequently been in the hospital to see the deceased since the accident happened. Deceased was able to distinguish people, and had shown no displeasure at Mr Irvine's presence.
Charles Irvine, residing with his father in York place, Dunedin, stated that he had been a constant companion of the deceased for some time, and that they had been out shooting together six or eight times. They went out in company on Friday, the 9th of November, and intended to stay out a couple of days. They went to Flagstaff and down to Whare Flat. Each had a gun. Witness had a double-barrelled gun, and Blacke a single. They had a tent with them, and pitched it on Friday. On the following day they went out, and returned to the tent along the Silverstream water race. Rounding a bend in the race witness saw a rabbit on the bank, and stooped to fire. Blacke stooped and fired first, and witness firing over him immediately afterwards, saw that he had hit Blacke, who was then standing up. He fell immediately. Had he been on the line of witness' sight witness must have seen, but did not do so. When he fell witness went up to him and saw that he was hit on the crown of the head. He was unconscious. Witness got some water and gave him a drink, and then went to the nearest farmhouse, some four miles distant. Here he saw a man (whose name he did not know) at the door and told him what had happened, and asked for assistance. He said he could not come as he could not leave the farmhouse, and directed witness to another place about three-quarters of a mile distant. He went there and saw a man on horseback, and informed him of what had happened. He rode round with witness to a house that he (witness) had not seen to get assistance. Some five or six men tendered their assistance, and witness directed them where to go, he following. On witness' return to the scene of the accident he had been away about two hours. It was about 7 o'clock then, and quite light. The men were starting to bring down Blacke, who was still unconscious. He was brought down to the Whare Flat schoolhouse — a distance of four or five miles — reaching there at 9 or 10 o'clock. A doctor was sent for, and Dr De Zouche arrived about midnight and advised his removal to the hospital, which was done. Witness was of opinion that while he was firing Blacke raised himself from a stooping position.
William D. Harold, caretaker of No. 3 section of the Silverstream water race, deposed that on the evening of the 10th inst. he went out for the purpose of shooting a pair of rabbits to send into town, when he met Duncan McMillan, who asked him where was the man that had been shot. McMillan replied that there had been such an accident at the bridge, which was close by. Irvine now came towards witness and said that he had shot his mate, who was lying some distance up the water race. Witness, with Duncan McMillan, then started up the water race, and left Irvine with young McMillan to follow with a pair of blankets. This would be about half-past 6. About 7 o'clock he found Blacke at that part of the race known as South Coal creek. Blacke looked very wild. Witness said to him "What's up?" He replied, "Nothing, old man." Witness asked him if he would have a drink of water, and he said "Yes, please." After taking the water he became sick. Witness said that he would be all right in a minute or two, and Blacke replied "Thank the Lord, you found me. What's the matter; am I shot?" Holland then came up and held Blacke while witness made the stretcher. McInnes, to whom Mr Irvine had gone at the farmhouse in the first instance, had in the meantime come up and helped witness to make the stretcher. Mrs McInnes was a cripple, and as there was no one with her in the house at the time he did not like to leave her. As soon as Duncan McMillan came up, witness sent him into town with an express for a policeman and a doctor. Mr Irvine seemed too greatly distressed to give an account of the accident.
Constable Duggan, stationed at Dunedin, stated that in company with Dr De Zouche he went out to Whare Flat on Saturday night. They arrived at the schoolhouse about 12 o'clock. The doctor recommended Blacke's removal to the hospital. On the way into town Blacke, who was conscious and appeared to know what was wrong with him, said it was accidental. He then shut his eyes and witness noticing that he was getting weaker did not further question him. Witness had previously spoken to Mr Irvine at the Whare Flat schoolhouse. He seemed to be greatly troubled and distressed. He said that he was in company with Mr Blacke when a rabbit sprang up, and they both aimed at it; that Blacke stood at the time, and on his (Irvine's) firing Black received the shot in his head. While giving this information Irvine several times said,"Oh, do you think he will die?"
Dr Fleming, resident surgeon at the Dunedin Hospital, was present when Mr Blacke was received into the institution on Sunday, the 11th inst., about 6 a.m. Witness immediately examined him and found found him to be suffering from depressed fracture of the skull and injury to the brain. He was unconscious, and remained so till Tuesday last, when he died about 9.30 p.m. There were marks of shot on the skull. He saw no shot, but most of them had apparently glanced off. He had no doubt that the injuries were the result of a gunshot wound — probably, on account of the great laceration, not fired from far away.
The Coroner said that there seemed to be no discrepancy between the statement made by Mr Irvine to Constable Duggan and that made by him to-day. There could be no doubt that death was the result of an unfortunate accident. Probably at the moment that Irvine fired deceased raised himself and received the shot into his head. A verdict of "Accidentally killed" was returned, the Foreman expressing the opinion that from the moment of the accident everyone seemed to have acted creditably. -Otago Daily Times, 30/11/1888.