Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 16 August 1929
The Holiday Rush.
Father’s Complaint: Coroner Satisfied.
At an inquest at the Montagu Hospital, Mexborough , on Tuesday, on John Charles Orgill (5), 18, Leslie Street, Goldthorpe, who was fatally injured by being knocked dose by a motor-‘bus on Wednesday of last week, the father, James Orgill, alleged that the driver of the vehicle was not in a fit condition to drive, owing to lack of sleep.
“When 1 came back from the hospital,” he said, after the driver. James Robshaw, of 138 Main Street, Goldthorpe, had given evidence “Robshaw told me about a narrow escape with a ‘bus he had had earlier in the week. He also told me that he had been to Manchester and Blackpool, and that during the week-end be had only 4 ½ hours’ sleep, I think Robshaw was not in a fit condition drive a ‘bus after having only 4 ½ hours’ sleep in three days. He was a fatigued man.”
Questioned by the Coroner (Mr. W. Carlite) Robshaw said that on Saturday be took a party to Manchester, arriving home at 3-30 on Sunday morning. “I went to bed until 1-30 p.m. on Sunday, and at night took a party of colliers to Barnburgh getting back at 11-30. I then went to Hemsworth with some young men who were going to a_dance, coming back home at 3-45 a.m. On Monday I did not go to sleep, but had some breakfast, and then took colliers to work. I finished that at 6-30, and after having something to eat left with a party for Manchester at 7-45. I got three or four hours’ sleep at Manchester, and got back from there at 1-45 a.m. on Tuesday. I went to bed until 4.45 a.m., then took colliers to work, and at 7-30 the same morning took a party to Blackpool. At Blackpool 1 got about two hours’ sleep and set off back home at 11 p.m. I got back home about 6-30 p.m. because the lights on the ‘bus fused, and I had to wait for daylight. When I got home I went straight to bed and stayed there until 12.55 p.m. whew I took a party of colliers , and the accident happened.
The Coroner: So altogether you had shout 25 hours’ sleep in four days. Do you think six hours’ sleep a day is enough? Were you fatigued at the time of the accident?— No, I was quite all right and fit to drive. This only happens at holiday time.
The Coroner: If you take from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon, you had only 15 hours’ rest. That is not enough, you know, especially when you to drive passengers.
The father: How long In that were you re-conditioning the ‘bus?—We only to replenish with oil and petrol.
The Coroner: I am only taking the hours according to the driver, and he says that was asleep during that time.
The father (to the driver): You are telling lies about going to bed. You spent it underneath the ‘bus. You admitted that you were tinkering about through the engine seizing.
Robshaw: l am not telling ties. The ‘bus was not touched on Wednesday morning. I went to bed.
The Coroner: Then you had six hours’ rest before the accident ?– . Yes.
The Coroner: and you were driving steadily P—Yes„ I had to go slowly because the big end of the engine was knocking.
The Coroner: If you had had more rest do you think it would have made any difference to your driving—No. I could not have avoided this accident is any way.
The Coroner: How many hours do you drive a week—We have just to fetch and take colliers. I should think it will take about eight hours a day.
The father: I do not like his statement on his rest hours during the week-end. I am sorry I have not bromht two witnesses who heard him tell me. He said he had had only 4 ½ hours’ sleep.
Robshaw: There is proof at home. I did not say 4 ½ hours’ sleep for the whole weekend, and they can prove it at home. They know when I come in and go out.
The Coroner: I have every sympathy with the parents of this child, but at the same time you must remember that this man apparently had six hours’ sleep previous to the accident. That is reasonable.
The father: he has told to different parties two different tales,.
Robshaw: There is proof.
The Coroner (to the father): Are you not satisfied with the evidence? —l am not satisfied that he was driving slowly.
The Coroner: We have other witnesses.
Robshaw evidence was to the effect that on Wednesday of last week he was driving a 20 –seater Dodge motor-‘bus with a full complement of miners to Barnburgh Colliery. This was about 1.20 p.m. Nearing Gilsbeck Bridge, in Barnburgh Lane , Goldthorpe, he sounded his born for about 100 yards because there were other colliers in the road. His speed was about eight miles an hour. “When I had just passed underneath the bridge, a boy ran across the road in front of me pushing a carriage wheel with a piece of wire attached. He got across to the other side, and when I was almost level with three colliers, the child Orgill dashed in front of them and straight into the front of my ‘bus. I jammed on the brakes and swerved, but he was caught by the bumper. The wheels did not go over him because of the swerve. I pulled up within a ‘bus length, and when I got to the back end of the ‘bus I saw the child in a miner’s arms.
Robshaw added that the child was taken for medical treatment at Goldthorpe and later to the Montagu Hospital. Orgill was unconscious.
Thomas Allen Pape, miner, of 1, Norah Street. Goldthorpe, said he was walking to Barnburgh Colliery when the accident occurred. He heard the sound of a hooter and turned into the side of the road. The ‘bus driven by Robshaw, was practically against him when he saw a child dash across the road. At the same time, the boy Orgill, pushing a little wheel by means of a piece of wire, attempted to follow the other youngster. Witness shouted “Come back,” but he continued his dash and was caught by the ‘bus. The vehicle passed over Orgill, but the wheels did not touch him. Witness ran to the child and picked him up. He was unconscious, and was taken to Dr. Mills and Dr. Jacques at Goldthorpe, and later to the Montagu Hospital.
Questioned by the Coroner, Pape said the ‘bur pulled up in six yards, and estimated its speed at between eight and nine miles as hour. “The driver had not a chance of missing the lad,” he said. “I could have got to him, but I should have been caught by the ‘bus. The lad just made a blind dash across the road.”
Joseph Hotchens, of 19, Victoria Street. Goldthorpe, a miner, who was travelling is the front of the ‘bus, gave similar evidence.
Dr. Dorothy Colver, house surgeon at the Montagu Hospital, said Orgill was admitted to the institution on Wednesday of last week about 3 p.m. He examined the boy, but could not find any external marks or injuries. The boy was unconscious and never regained consciousness, dying in the hospital on Monday morning. Death was due to concussion, followed by cerebral irritation.
The Coroner: It was strange that there was not a mark or bruise on the child’s? — Yes, exceedingly strange.
Addressing the jury, Mr. Carlile said, “On the evidence I do not think you can find the driver was to blame in a way. We have questioned him closely on the number of hours’ rest he had during the week-end, and it seems that from Sunday to the time of the accident he had only a small amount of sleep. This matter is receiving considerable attention from the authorities who issue ‘bus licences throughout the country. It is fair to the public that drivers of ‘buses should not work more hours than are reasonable and should have plenty of time for rest when they are entrusted with the lives of passengers. I think you will agree that it should receive the fullest attention. Having regard to the fact that the driver in this case had six hours’ rest before the accident, I do not think we can blame him. I do not think you can find anything in the evidence which shows that he was lacking in care and his speed was reasonable.”
A verdict of “Accidental death” was turned and the driver was exonerated.