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An inquest was held at the Kaitangata Athenffium yesterday, before Mr Coroner Fleming, touching the circumstances attending the death of James Howard, who was killed in the Kaitangata coal mine on the 28th inst, Inspector Binns appeared on behalf of the Mines Department; and Mr W. D. Stewart appeared to watch the proceedings in the interest of the Kaiiangata Railway and Coal Company. Edward Wheeler stated that he was working in the mine on Tuesday afternoon along with tha deceased. At about 330 the deceased was shovelling coals from the face. Witness was about 3:t from him. All at once be board a noise, and although he tnrned round and called the deceased did not answer. Witness’s lamp went out, and he rushed for assistance to the next workings. When he came back with the manager ha found the deceased under a large lump of coal, his body being covered. The deceased was removed, but was found to bo dead. They were working the coal in the usual way when the accident occurred. The fall was from the roof. There was no warning. If they had considered the roof unsafe there would have been props used. The deceased had charge of the workings, and was supposed to know whether it was safe. It was his duty to put props in when he considered it necessary. Witness saw the deceased try tha roof with a pick several times during the afternoon to test its safety, but he made no remark as to whether it was safe or not.

To Mr Binns ; The coal was marked that morning as having been examined. Witness saw the underviewer that morning before starting work, and found a mark of examination. Shore said that the place was all right that morning. To Mr Stewart; The deceased was witness’s superior, and was looked on os responsible to point out any defects. There was plenty of timber available if witness or deceased required it. Dr Butler stated that the deceased’s skull was fractured, the bone being crushed up and pressing upon the brain. The fracture was the cause of death.

John Shore deposed that he inspected the workings on Tuesday morning at 7.50, and again at eleven o’clock, and found on both occasions that the same were quite in a eafe condition, Witness also gave full partieulars as to the working of the mine. William Shore, mine manager, stated that he had been in the workings tho night Sreviously, and there seemed to be no anger. The height of the workings was lift 3in, and tho width 10ft. At the time ef the accident the deceased must have bean standing on n heap of coal about 3ft hlgb, and about Oft from the roof. After the accident ho found tho roof was 2it 21n at one end and loin at the other in thickness. Rails were frequently found in the roofs of eoal mines, bat on the present occasion the roll was unusually large, and could not have been foreseen oy the deceased. The deceased had been in the mine fully two and a-half years, and was a very careful man.

Inspector Binns "aid that he examined the alleged scene of the accident. He saw no reason to doubt the accuracy of tho account of the accident given by the witnesses. The roll in the present instance was large and more sudden than usual, and it could not have been expected that there would have been such a large roll in such a place. In future it would Be desirable to carry out the suggestions which the evidence had disclosed as necessary. The Coroner said there was no doubt as to the nature cf the accident, and the question was whether anyone was to blame. The evidence seemed to show that all reasonable care had been used, and there was no evidence of negligence on the part of anyone. I he jury retired to consider their verdict, and after returning tho Foreman intimated that the) were of opinion that death had resulted from a pure accident, and that no blame attached to anyone. Mr Stewart asked the jury, seeing that they had decided that no one was to blame, and that death had resulted from an accident, whether they would express an opinion as to whether the widow and children were fit objects for relief from tho Kaitangata relief fund.

A Juryman : I don’t think that fund is being properly administered. Some get too much, and some too little. Mr Stewart: The question, however, at present is whether you are prepared to make any recommendation. The Foreman said, the jury were not unanimous as to whether such a recommendation should be made by them.

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Bibliographic details

INQUEST., Issue 7921, 31 May 1889

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INQUEST. Issue 7921, 31 May 1889

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