The inquest on the body of George Bland, whose death occurred under such melancholy circumstances in the river bed on Sunday last, was held in Baldwin’s Central Hotel, on Tuesday, before the Coroner, Dr. Trevor, and the following jury, of whom Mr. Joshua Tucker was chosen foreman :—Messrs. R. Murray, Barrett, S. Lucas, John Gardiner, Quinn, P. M'Lauchlin, Anson, Broadbelt, Everett, Tucker, Johnston, Allison and Trickett. The body was brought in a dray from the house where death, took place, and exhibited to the jury in the yard of the hotel. After the jury had been sworn and had had adjourned to view the body, the following evidence was taken on their return :
James Purchase, sworn, deponed—l am a hairdresser, and reside in Ashburton. On Sunday morning last, the 23rd inst., about half-past nine, I left Ashburton on horseback, in company with the deceased George Bland, whose body the jury have just seen. We had each a double barrelled gun, and wore proceeding, in response to an invitation to spend the night at the house of the deceased’s mother, Mrs. Bland, at Greenstreet. We also proposed to go shooting on the following day (the Queen’s Birthday), and also to take part in a pigeon match. We decided after leaving my shop, to go up the river, and about a mile up from the bridge we loaded, thinking to have a shot. Bland’s gun was found to be foul, and neither cap nor priming would discharge it. We decided therefore to keep it, loaded as it was, until we reached George Bland’s mother’s, where we meant to draw the charge. I gave my gun to George, who was the best shot, and for some distance we went on foot, I leading the horses. We chased two ducks up and down the river for a time. We mounted again, and three miles further up we entered a swamp. Here I went on foot, and George was mounted, leading my horse, A swamp hen rose, and I raised the gun which I was carrying to fire. On account of having to raise the hammers, I was not in time to shoot the swamp hen, and I didn’t fire. Another chance was missed in the same way, and Bland said, “ For God’s sake, put those hammers up, and keep your finger on the trigger, or we shall never get a bird.” At his ivisli, though very reluctantly, for I had never carried my hammers at full cock before, 1 followed his instructions and carried the gun with the hammers raised. Another duck rose, and I fired, but missed. It was then that George Bland asked me to come to him for ammunition, as mine was in the pockets of my great coat, which was strapped on my horse behind- the saddle, while he wore his shot-belt round his body. I went between the horses at deceased’s right side, and he poured the charges from the flask into the right barrel of the gun, which was the one that had been discharged, and I rammed them home. The left barrel of the gun was still at full cock, as from the time I fired to the time I went to the deceased I had not let down the hammer of the left barrel. I got a cap from deceased, and was raising the gun with my left hand to put the cap on, when the horses came together and threatened to jam me between them. Fearing an accident with the gun, I stepped back co avoid being crushed between the horses, and in doing so I dragged the gun towards me to clear the horses. In stepping back, the left barrel of the gun went off, but whether the trigger caught in my clothes or hit against my arm, I cannot say. The charge lodged ju the calf of George’s right leg, who immediately said, “ My God, I am shot! ” He then swung round on his horjp, and came down, alighting easily on his feet, He then sat down on the tussocks, and meanwhile the horses had bolted, frightened by the discharge of the gun so near them. I asked him if it was his leg that had been shot, as I saw no marks. He replied that it was his leg. I made him as comfortable as I could, but did not bandage his leg in any way, and I at once made for the nearest house for assistance. The nearest house was that of Mr. Harris, about a mile from the place where George lay. The accident mfjst have happened about one o’clock, I found Mr. Harris trying to stop our horses. He came with me, (bringing some bandages from the house. Others also came. When we reached deceased we found the trousers all saturated with blood, but thp bipod about the wound was all congealed. The drawers about the wound were very tight, the leg having swollen very much. We cut up the trousers, but did not cut the drawers, thinking it -would be unwise to do so until the doctor arrived, iis we feared the bleeding would start afresh. We carried deceased on a dray (which had been procured) to Mr. Maconochie’s house, and meanwhile a messenger had brought Dr. Stewart from Ashburton. Dr. Stewart, who arrived perhaps about three o’clock, ordered deceased’s removal at once to Ashburton. I do not remember that I made a statement to Dr. Stewart of how the accident occurred, but I think I told Mr. Harris. I scarcely remember how I spent the day after the accident, owing to how I felt in regard to it. Deceased and I were close and intimate friends. I have been used to shooting, but I never carried my hammers cocked before, and only did so at George’s urgent request. When I loaded the gun beside him, he pouring in the
charge while he sat on his horse, I had quite forgot that the hammer of the left barrell was on full cock. The forgetfulness arose from my habit of carrying my gun being different—namely, with the hammers down. While the left, barrel was on full cock during the ramming home the charge in the right, my own hand and head were in danger. By the .Coroner —I saw no blood bj r deceased when I left him, and I gave him some spirits from the flask we carried to keep him up. I did not know what to do very well, and I thought it was best to g i for assistance.
The Coroner —Did it not strike you that it was necessary to bind up the wound ? Witness—No. I did not think the wound was nearly so serious as it was, and I didn’t know very well what to do; besides, there did not appear to be so much bleeding as to cause alarm. The Coroner —There must have been some very "great bleeding at some time, for by it the lad lost his life. You went away for someone else, who probably knew as little how to act as you did yourself. You should at once have put some sort of a light bandage above the wound—between it and the heart. If you had done so, you would have saved the young man’s life.
By a juror (Mr. Allison) —I have been out shooting with deceased—a fortnight ago I was out shooting with him. lam used to the gun. F. Macbean Stewart, sworn, deponed— I am a duly qualified medical practitioner, and reside in Ashburton. On Sunday last, about two o’clock, a messenger came to me, saying that a young man, named Bland, had been shot, and was lying up in the river bed. We went to the house of Mr. Maconochie, where we found deceased had been removed. On examining the wound, I found that the trousers had been cut, and proceeded to cut the drawers, which had been left intact. I found a very extensive lacerated wound —or rather three wounds—about the middle of the calf of the leg, between the knee and the ankle. The tibia or shinbone was completely shattered. One of the arteries began to bleed very profusely, but by exerting pressure upon it I was able to stop it. I made a pad, and tied it very tightly above the knee, so as to prevent further hemorrhage. The wound being of so serious a nature, I considered it better to have the young man removed to Ashburton. That was done, and he was brought to Mr. Daily’s house, in the Wakanui road, where Dr. Trevor, Dr. Ross, and myself held a consultation. Deceased was in such a weak state that it was considered not advisable to perform any operation until a reaction had set in. A reaction never took place. I left deceased a little after eight o’clock, so that I could go home and make preparations for staying with him over the night. About half-an-hour after, John Bland, his brother, came for me, saying that a sudden change had taken place. On going to the house I found that the young man was dead. I believe deceased died from loss of blood and from shock to the system. From the appearance of the body, more blood had been lost than the last witness appeared to think. 1 did not see the place where the lad had been lying while Purchase went for aid. But when I came to deceased first —about three o’clock —the wound was still bleeding. The face of deceased gave the appearance of great loss of blood having been suffered. Deceased was quite conscious. I would not expect a man of good and healthy constitution, such as deceased was, to die from simple shock to the system from such a wound without a great loss of blood. Supposing measures, to stop the bleeding, had been taken by tying anything tight round the leg above the wound, it is quite possible the young man would not have died, always supposing that death did not result from shock to the system. I heard the last witness’ evidence. He made a similar statement, as to how the accident occurred, in ray presence and in the presence of deceased, who was quite conscious. Deceased did not contradict the statement of Purchase in any w r ay. Deceased was quite conscious, but he gradually became fainter up till the time of his death.
The Coroner, after giving the customary explanation of what constitutes manslaughter, said there had evidently been carelessness manifested—or at least great inexperience—both in the use. of the gun in this affair, and in the treatment of the young man after the accident had happened. A double-barrelled gun had been carried about for a considerable distance with both hammers at full cock, and after one barrel had been discharged, it was re-loaded while its fellow still remained at full cock. The witness, Purchase, who had carried the gun, had given as a reason for the loading in this condition of the gun that it was a departure from his own invariable custom, at the urgent request of his companion, and being a departure from his own custom he had forgot for the time that the unfired barrel was at full cock. It would be for the jury to say how much of culpability there was in this as well as in the neglect to bandage the leg. The Coroner,
in referring to the young man’s death, which had evidently taken place from a loss of blood that might have been prevented by judicious precautions, saw that fatal results often attended accidents simply from the want of a little useful knowledge. It was as well that people should know how to act when placed in circumstances similar to those in which Purchase found himself last Sunday. When a wound was inflicted on any part of a person’s leg below the knee, a bandage, of any kind, tied tightly round the knee would stop the bleeding. Whereever the limb was wounded, and excessive bleeding resulted, a tight bandage put round the limb, between the wound and the heart would stop the bleeding. Even when a bandage could not be well applied, placing the thumb upon the artery in the groin, where the pulsations are felt, and pressing strongly, would stop the bleeding for a time. The same course of bandaging would be successful with the arm ; and where the hand had been injured, bleeding could be stopped by doubling the forearm at the elbow, and passing the bandage tightly round both forearm and bicep—the thick part under the shoulder. He hoped the press would take note of these simple instructions, and impress their necessity upon the public. The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of “ Accidental Death.”
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