Swinton and Mexborough Times March 4th 1927
Crushed By Bus
Conisbrough Child’s Terrible Death
A Perilous Playground
An inquest on Vera Hirst, a three year old Conisbrough child who was killed by a Barnsley ‘bus on February 23, was held on Friday at the Star hotel, Conisbrough, by Mr W. H. Carlile, and a jury and verdict of “accidental death” was returned, the driver being exonerated.
Ernest Hirst, miner, of Castle Terrace, father of the child, gave evidence of identification, and said it was not the habit of the child to play alone on the road. On this occasion she was with her sister.
William Greenfield, of Charles St, Swinton, driver of the bus, said he was travelling along Low Road, Conisbrough, towards Mexborough, shortly after three on Wednesday afternoon. A delivery van stood on the left side of the road, about 100 yards from the corner, and he saw a child standing on the causeway on his offside. He drew out into the middle of the road to pass the standing van, and the child suddenly dashed across the road. He pulled sharply over to the left, at the same time jammed on all brakes, and stopped dead. He got down and found the child under the bus, her head towards the middle of the road, her face just under the offside rear wheel.
Mr Carlile: What speed were you travelling when you first saw the child? – Just over 8 miles an hour, I think, sir.
When you put on the plates what happened? – The bus skidded forward.
Did it skid directly forward? – Straight forward.
Had you sounded your hooter? – Yes.
But it did not attract the child’s attention? – No, sir, not at all.
Was there anybody with the child? – Nobody.
How long have you been driving? – Since 1923.
How long with this class of vehicle? – Two years.
John Wilkinson, a railway carter, of Burcroft Hill said he was driving a horse dray in the same direction as the bus. It had just passed him. The bus was not travelling more than 8 to 10 miles an hour. He first saw the child when she set off across the road. Just as the ’bus drew level with her. He saw the bus spin the child round and the rear wheel stopped on her. The driver swerved to the left very sharply to try to avoid the child. Witness did not understand how the driver saw the child so quickly. The bus was pulled up sharply and skidded a little.
Mr Carlisle: in your opinion did the driver do what he could to avoid the accident? – I think he did very well. He did all he could, I think.
Mr G. W. Robinson (assistant manager of the Barnsley District Traction Company.): How far would the bus travel after the child left the footpath? – I don’t think it would travel above 3 yards.
Lewis Powell, miner, of Firbeck Street, Denaby, said he was walking in the same direction as the bus. The bus was travelling at 10 miles an hour or less. He did not see the child run across. He heard someone shout and saw the bus come to a dead stop. He ran to the spot and pulled the child from under the bus, which had to be drawn back a little to enable them to extricate her.
Mr Carlisle: Do you consider the bus was travelling at a reasonable speed? – Yes.
There was no other traffic about except the dray and the standing van? – No.
Mrs Annie Lumby of 1, Doncaster Road, grandmother of the child, said the child was brought to her house by her neighbour, who said, “for God’s sake, take this child to the doctors. It has been under a Barnsley ‘bus.” Witness ran out to the doctors with it to prevent her daughter from seeing it.
Mr Carlile: Was she alive? – Yes, sir she was alive till I got to the bottom of the road, then she just gave two little sighs and was gone.
Dr D. M. Bell, said the child was dead when brought to his surgery, just before 3:30. Death was due to a fractured skull and shock, and there were numerous other injuries.
Mr Carlile said there was no dispute about the facts, and according to the evidence driver clearly did all he possibly could to avoid the accident. It was difficult to understand why the child suddenly ran across the road with the bus on top of her, but there was never any accounting for the actions of a child at that age, without any sense of danger. They could only come to the conclusion that it was a pure accident. It was a great pity that young lives should be lost in that way. It was a difficult question for parents what to do with the children. It seemed a risk to let them play in the main highway, but the child must have fresh air and exercise, and it was not always possible for some responsible person to be on the spot. A good many lines were lost in that way every year, and it was difficult to now how the loss could be prevented.
The coroner and jury extended to the parents the sympathy, as did Mr Robinson on behalf of his company.