A remarkable death through accident is reported in the Hobart Mercury of 3rd February'. It appears that a Mr Francis William Mitchell was in the dress circle of the theatre on the previous Monday, where he fainted. Airs Mitchell stated at the inquest that her husband had been lately subject to fainting fits, and when, at his wish, they went to the theatre, she took with her the only restorative she had—a bottle of liquid ammonia. The deceased went off in a dead faint at the end of the first act, and she held the bottle to his nose with one hand while she tried to lift him with the other. Her hand shaking, some of the liquid was upset on his nose, but she thought it would only help to bring him to, not knowing the danger that was attached to its being there. He was taken out on the corridor until he revived sufficiently to be taken to Dr Giblin’s, whence he was taken home, and he died next morning. Dr Giblin had attended to him, and saw him frequently between the time of the occurence and the hour of his death, next day. He complained of pains in his chest and feelings of suffocation. Dr E. O. Gihlin ggve medical testimony, based upon a post mortem examination made by him, and stated that, from the appearance of the body, burnt and swollen internally, especially about the nostrils and throat, he was of opinion that the cause of death was the collapse resulting from the administration of strong liquid ammonia, He discovered no organic disease, and the weak state of the system was owing to an attack of diarrhoea, from which deceased had lately been suffering. Abouf 30 drops of the liquid, or less, would be likely to cause such injuries as he detected. The fumes even were pungent, and of themselves very iiritant. To a juryman, Dr Giblin said that ammonia was used for fainting fits, but not generally in this form, which was adapted more for cleansing purposes.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 294, 16 March 1881
Extraordinary Death. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 294, 16 March 1881
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