THE INQUEST. The following is the driver’s evidence in the inquest on John Mcldrum Andrew Smith, engine-driver was the last witness. He said that he wished to give evidence, and, having been sworn, deposed : —I have been engine-driver of the tram car Washington about three months. I was driving that engine south about2p.m.. Where lam placed I can see a considerable distance ahead of me, but on approaching any object within fifteen or twenty yards I lose sight of it, except when it is to be seen out of the side window. After passing St. Andrew street I saw two horses and carts backed up towards the carriage shed. I took no notice of them because they were quiet. There were four gentlemen on the car. I have constantly warned the conductor against allowing passengers to remain on the outside, as it stops my view and causes danger. On crossing St. Andrew street I told the boy to clear the platform. Previously during that trip I had stopped the train and cleared the platform. When quite close on deceased's horse I saw it move away from the footpath. The train car must then have been within three or four yards of the horse’s head, though I cannot tell within some yards of the distance an object is when I once lose sight of it. Seeing the danger, I reversed the engine to go in a different direction, and stopped it as quickly as I could manage. About twenty yards from the horses I drew up to get over some bad places, and went about two or three miles an hour —slower indeed than a person would walk. Before then I could only have been going about six miles an hour. If the engine is in good order I can stop the engine and car in its own length when going at the rate of five or six miles an hour. This is all the rate we were allowed to travel at. At the rate weave going at the time of the accident, and with the engine in good order, I could have stopped in half the car’s length. Ido not know how long it would take by reversing the engines to stop the trains, but it ought not to take so long. On this occasion the steam was very weak. The steam should not be used at all for stopping. The proper way would be to shut oil steam and apply the brake. The brake was in very bad order. The four brakes to the front wheels were off. They were in the shed when the brake broke about three days before the accident. I took the engine to the shed, and reported the accident in the book kept for that purpose. The brake was sent to the foundry for castings, but these were not ready. The reversing leaver with the steam has since done duty as a brake.
The Coroner —This is an explanation of the accident. Then how was it that this engine was allowed to run in this unsafe condition ? Witness—l don’t know. The matter was reported, and nothing being done, I have been compelled to keep a look out and take what precautions I could. The Coroner —Then you were actually deprived of the very power of doing your duty I
Witness—Yes, sir. The Coroner—Did you consider it unsafe to work the engine in tins condition I Witness—Yes. I told the superintending engineer so every day. The Coroner—Did you tell Mr Proudfoot ?
Witness—l believe Mr Proudfoot did not know anything about this until the inquest was called. The Coroner —Then if you had had a proper brake even admitting that the horse did not bolt till you were within yards of it, do you think that you could have prevented the accident I Witness —I believe that considering the distance the man was under the cart, I could have saved the man’s life if the car had been in proper working order. lam not confident of this.
The Coroner —Do you consider it dangerous to reverse the engine ‘I Witness—lt is dangerous to reverse the engine, because being a compound engine and car, it might explode some day if that were done.
The Coroner said the jury would doubtless agree with him that from the serious complexion the matter had now assumed, an adjournment would now be necessary for the production of the evidence of Mr Craig, the superintending engineer, and others.
An adjournment was consequently agreed upon, and it was decided to sit again on Monday, at 2 p.m. [By Telegraph.] Dunedin, Oct. 27. The inquest on the body of John Meldrum, killed on the tramway on Friday, was concluded to-day, when a verdict of manslaughter was returned against John Craig, superintending engineer. The driver was exonerated from blame. A rider to the effect that a boy should not be allowed to act as a conductor, and that the line should be provided with a turntable to obviate the necessity of engines running reverse ways, was added to the verdict.
The Drainage of the Ashburton and Rakaia Plains.
A meeting of delegates from the Ashburton County Council, Mount Somers, Upper Ashburton, Mount Hutt, and South Rakaia Road Boards was held at the Road Board Office, South Rakaia, on Thursday, the 23rd inst, to consider the scheme and ropotl r of Messrs J. H. Lowe, Railway Engineer; W. Baxter, County Council Engineer ; and R. P. Bain, C.E. > as to the practicability of draining the plains of storm water-, by leading it into the Rakaia and Ashburton rivers Present —Messrs 0. N. Maclde, (Chairman), South Rakaia Road Hoard : Mr Stitt, Upper Ashburton Road Board ; D. Cameron, County Council and Mount Somers Road Board; Mr M'Millan, Mount Hutt Road Board; and D. G. Holmes, South Rakaia Road Board. On the motion of Mr M'Millan, seconded by Mr Stitt, Mr Mackie took the chair.
The Chairman road the report, which has already appeared in our columns, which was accompanied by a tracing ol the district, sliowiug the courses the storm water takes on the plains, and spoke of the work as being essentially necessary for the benefit of the whole of the plains, and it was for them to decide whether tliis w-as a feasible scheme. Borins part, he did not agree with the whole of it. He thou read a few clauses from the Public Works Act bearing on the subject of public bodies taking private land for diver ting water courses, and for drainage . He (the Chairman) thought it would Ire a too expensive scheme to take the water from near Methven to Allen’s Chasm.
Mr Stitt was of opinion that the first expense in these matters was always the least, and contended that it would cost more more to repair the damage done to roads every year hy the floods than to go into a more extensive scheme at first. Mr Holmes understood that it would take something like thirteen or fourteen thousand pounds more to take the water from near Methven to Allen’s, there being afa 1 from the terrace of the river inland, and the terrace there being a hundred feet higher than where it was proposed to take it it into the river at Barr Hill. It was quite evident that something would have to be done at once, as there were miles and miles of fencing destroyed below the railway line by the last flood. He approved of the scheme with detail alterations, and would support it.
Mr M'Millan did not think the scheme would be of any service to the district he represented, and they would object to carrying it out. Mr Mackie, although ho could not agree with the remarks of Mr M‘Mi!!an, was inclined to oppose the scheme, as he did not think the plan of stripping seven and a i alf acres as proposed at the outlet of the dry creek at Methven, would answer the purpose intended, there was such a heavy volume of water coming down the dry creek when flooded. He was afraid it would ho too expensive to keep the hole clear of silt. Mr M'Millan thought it would not answer, as it came over so much loose shingle in the creek before it came to the proposed sink, and did not appear to decrease in volume.
Mr Holmes thought that it would absorb a great quantity, and it would bo impossible to estimate the amount of percolation during its course down the dry creek. He thought it would bo a very beneficial work, and could be carried out at very small cost. Mr Cameron, although bo did not bind himself to the theoiy, was of the same opinion as Mr Holmes. Considerable discussion ensued, and instances were given of the amount of water absorbed in pits where gravel had been excavated.
Mr Stitt was of opinion that for the Ashburton side they ought to clear out tlie creeks as proposed to a certain point, and then, by cutting a channel into a large and well defined water course, load it into the Ashburton river nearly direct. He thought it might even be better still to cut a direct course and divert it ont of its natural channel, and lead it more directly into the river.
Mr Cameron said the fall was so great in the locality that that would not bo safe. He thought that clearing tlie present creek and cutting off a few of the bends, and leading the water into the channel proposed by Mr Stitt, would be the most advantageous and least expensive. Mr Mackie regretted that the engineers were not present at the Conference, as they might have been able to give detailed information on some of the points mooted.
After a considerable amount of discussion, the following resolution was passed, with only one dissenting voice, all present agreeing that the matter should be taken up and gone on with as soon as possible, believing that by the time the surveys and working [dans were prepared the work would be ready to be commenced, about February, when the grain, etc., would bo off the land. The following resolution was moved by Mr Holmes, seconded by Mr Stitt, and caraied —‘ ‘ That in the opinion of this Conference, consisting of delegates from the County Council, Mount Somers, Mount Hutt, Upper Ashburton, and South Kakaia Road Boards, the scheme for the purpose of carrying off tlie storm waters between the Rakaia and Ashburton rivers, submitted by tlie different engineers would be advantageous to the district, and is urgently req fired; and they also recommend that roads should not be used for channels in carrying out the work.”
Mr McMillan wished to record bis opposition to carrying out tlie scheme unless the cost was borne by the districts directly interested. It was resolved to forward the foregoing resolution to the County Council.
A vote of thanks to tho Chairman terminated the proceedings of the Conference.
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