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TRIPLE TRAGEDY., Star, Issue 11601, 20 January 1916
—+ SENSATION AT RICCARTON. THREE CHILDREN DROWNED IN RACECOURSE LAKE. INQUEST TO-DAY. A shocking tragedy occurred at the Riccarton Racecourse yesterday, whereby three children, belonging to one family, wero drowned. Tho victims are: Vera Mumford, aged 10. Olivo Catherine Mum ford, aged 8. Samuel Arthur Mumford, aged 6. They were the children of Mr-and Mrs Samuel Mumford, of Buchanan's Road, Sockburn- Mr Mumford is a butcher by trade, and is employed at tho Christchureh City Abbatoirs. Mrs Mumford last'saw her children alivo shortly after two o'clock, when they went nest door to the house of Mr Charles Timms and played with his four children. They loft there about 3.30 p.nvi, and went to the Racecourse, where they wero seen playing about on the grandstands. They we're there for about an hour, and then began to think of returning home. Coming down off the big grandstand they crossed the rustic bridge over the lily pond into tho tea kiosk grounds and then crossed the bridge on the other side, intending to got out on to Racecourse Road and thence home by a short route. There were seven in the party, consisting of Vera Mumford, aged ten, Olive Mumford, aged eight, Samuel Mumford, aged six, Norman Timms, aged "six, Ethel Timms, aged four, and two smaller children of the Tininis family. After crossing the secaud bridge over the lily pond Samuel Mumford thought he would like a paddle, so he stepped to the edge of the pond, overbalanced or got out of his depth and could not get out. The water in the pond is about eight or ten feet deep. Vera Mumford saw her brother struggling in tho water and rushed in to pulT him out. Soon she too was in difficulties. Then Olive rushed to the rescue, only to add a third victim to the ghastly tragedy. As Norman Timms is onlv six years old it was not to be expected'that ho could do anything, so the children _ simply looked on in terror while- their comrades sank.
Frightened and helpless tho Timms children ran away home. On their way they niet a boy named Carr, whose father, Mr Hush Carr, is employed on the 'course and had not long finished work. His son told him what the Tinims children said, and Mr Carr, after telephoning to Constable Hannafin and Dr Thompson, hastened to tho course, where he met the caretaker. MrR. D. M'Nab.
As the children could give no very clear account of tho accident. Mr Carr and Mr M'Nab thought it hac. occurred in the old bathing pond across the road, but they found nothing there. They then went to the lily pond and close to the bridge saw the victims' hats floating on the surface. The water, which Is covered to a great extent with lilies and is much discoloured, gave some slight indication through the disturbance of the growth where the children had gone down. Mr Carr was successful in getting the bodies of Vera and Samuel Mumford out of the water just as Constable Hannafin arrived; All set to work at once in an effort to restore lifo ignorant of the fact that another child was still in the pond. It was not long, however, before the other children told the adults that Olive Mumford was still in the water, and she was found just a little further from the bank than her brother mid. sister, who had been found quite close together. - By this time Dr Thompson had Arrived, and for over an hour the doctor, the constable and Messrs Carr and M'Nab worked on the bodies to restore animation, but their efforts were unavailing. When it r was quite evident that the children wero beyond human aid, Constable Hannafin had the bodies rerroved to the ambulance room close by, where they lie awaiting tho inquest, which will be held to-day. The pond and the spot where the tragedy occurred are well known to most, people who have been to the racecourse. The depth of the water comes as rather a surprise, and a resident told a reporter last evening that he "thought the Jockey Club shoidd fence the pond in with wire netting. It will be remembered that some five years ago, when a Roman Catholic* picnic was being held on ihe course, two children fell in and were rescued by the son of Superintendent Dwyer. who luckily happened to be standing near. The racecourse is a favourite picnic resort on holidays, and children go there in large numbers, as it makes for them an admirable playground. Constable Hannafin stated last night that on picnic days he always makes a point of going to the course and seeing that children do not go too near the pond, bearing in mind the happening at the Roman Catholic picnic. Yesterday not being a picnic day, ho was not there, and as it was five o'clock or just after, the racecourse workers had knocked off, so that the children, once in the pond, had no hope of rescue. The tragedy is felt very keenly in the district, where tho family is well and popularly known. The children were spoken of by those who knew them as bright and merry, and they were all extremely well liked. Two children are left Mr and Mrs Mumford to comfort them in their loss.
The inquest is being held this afternoon in the Ambulance .Room,-off Riccarton Racecourse. Mr H. W. Bishop. S.M., being th 0 coroner. David Samuel Mumford, father ol the deceased children, butcher, do/ posed that his residence was .about half a, mile from the course-. Veronica, was ten years old, Olive Katherine was eight years old, and the. boy six years. They were lug children for their ages. They ■occasionally came to the racecourse, to play: he did not know that they were in' the habit of going to the pond. • None of them could swim. He had heard that the children left Mr Tiinms'* house about ( p.m. There wero seven, children all together. 1:1 c. first heard of the. disaster about . r >.3o p.m.. when the Young Tinvms children came to his house and told witness that his children had'fallen into the water. They gave no particulars, except that it was on the course. He immediately ran round, took oft' his clothes and dived in for the third child. Two children had been recovered lief ore he arrived and the bystanders were attempting to resusirate them. Witness was unsuccessful in his search for the third body but Mr Carr recovered it. Every effort was made to induce respiration, but the children were too far gone. Continuing the witness said tliat. ho had not known the spot before, and in his opinion the depth of water was about eight feet. So far as be knew the disaster was quite an . accident The children being so young, he could no) get much from them.
Mr Bishop : Quite so. That is why I have not brought them here to-day. -Mr Bishop returned a verdict that the tb.-e? children were accidentally drowned by fa.lu.ns into a pond at Rioeart-ou Racecourse. Mr Bishop added that Mr Wanklyn had informed him that th« authorities of the- Jockey Club woukl take steps ns far as possible to make the pond absolutely safe. He would repeat " as far us possible," because one could not keen children away from water. The .attention of the .lockev Club had never been drawn to the danger of the >|>ot.
TRIPLE TRAGEDY., Star, Issue 11601, 20 January 1916
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