Accident Mystery – Man’s Crash into Windscreen

February 1939

Mexborough and Swinton Times, February 17 1939

Conisborough Accident Mystery.
Puzzling Evidence about Stationary Car.
Man’s crash into a Windscreen.
Open Verdict on Clifton Road Sweeper.

The mystery of how a middle-aged Clifton man was knocked down by a motorcar and fatally injured at Conisborough Crossroads was not cleared up at the inquest at Doncaster on Friday. There were no witnesses of the actual impact, and the car driver told the coroner (Mr W.Bagshaw), that he saw nothing of the man until his windscreen shattered and he saw the man lying on his bonnet. An open verdict that the man “met his death by being knocked down by a car, there being no evidence to implicate anybody,” was returned.

The relatives of the dead man, Henry Appleyard (55) Holly house, Clifton, was represented by Mr A.Loy, and Mr G.S.Ward, was present on BR for the driver, Herbert Been Smith, Chestnut Tree Farm, Thrybergh.

Fractured Skull

The coroner said that Appleyard, a road scavenger, employed by Doncaster Rural District Council, was knocked down on the main Sheffield – Doncaster road at Conisborough on the previous Monday by a motorcar which was travelling in the direction of Doncaster. He sustained a fractured skull and was taken to the Doncaster infirmary, where he died the following day.

Evidence of identification was given by Appleyard’s sister, Mrs Nellie Thompson, who said she was called to the infirmary at 10.30 on the Monday night. He was then unconscious and died the following day without regaining consciousness.

Herbert Ford, miner, of 82, Daylands Avenue, who, at the time of the accident, was standing on the footpath at the crossroads 15 Clifton Hill, said he heard a crash near the top of the one-way street – Lamp House Hill – and ran along to investigate. A car was stationed at the top of the one-way street close to the footpath; his windscreen was shattered, and there was a lot of glass strewn about the road, and one ofits headlights was broken off. A man was lying in the roadway on the setts near to the footpath – about five or 6 yards behind the car. The driver was attending the injured man then, and he told witness he had not seen anything before the windscreen smashed Appleyard was lying on his back with his feet towards Rotherham and hishead towards Doncaster. Witness said that this place was not well lighted.

In reply to Mr Waugh, witness said that the only vehicle he saw the time was one standing on the opposite side of the road in front of the garage. He did not notice a stationary car between the corner and the car involved in the accident.

Heard a Thud.

Walter Balmer, miner, of Duffield Lane, Conisborough, said he heard a thud as he was walking up the one-way street. Turning round he saw a flash and ran up to the corner. A man was lying on the roadway about 2 yards from the verge and the car was then about 5 yards away on the Rotherham side. Witness immediately ran into a neighbouring shop, and phoned for the police and an ambulance; when he got back a number of people were giving the man assistance.The leftheadlamp of the car was lying on the ground. Balmer said he did not remember seeing a stationary vehicle.

Mr Waugh: I am going to suggest that there was another car on the Rotherham side, not involved in the accident, and this car was facing towards Rotherham.

Driver Gives Evidence.

Herbert Bean Smith, the driver of the car, elected to give evidence. He said the accident must have happened shortly after he passed Brook square, and he was then travelling at about 26 mph. A motorcycle came towards him from the direction of Doncaster and he dimmed his headlights. Almost immediately afterwards the accident occurred; he had just passed a stationary car on this side of the road, which was facing towards Rotherham. The first thing he knew of anything happening was when his windscreen was shattered. As soon as he saw what had happened he pulled the car into the side out of the way.

Coroner: it seems most extraordinary that you should not have seen this man before.
Witness: if there had not been a car at the corner of Brook squarehe would see me and I would have seen him.
Coroner: how is it that according to Balmer your car was on the Rotherham side of the body?
Witness: that is not true.
Inspector Wolfe: do you think you were exercising sufficient care?
Witness: I have driven almost every day for 26 years and I’ve never had an accident before. I was driving carefully.

No witnesses.

Addressing the jury, the coroner said it was unfortunate there were no witnesses of the actual accident. As it was no one could say at what speed the car was being driven or anything. “The whole thing is very unsatisfactory,” he said, “and there is so much conflict between the evidence of the witnesses that I’m not sure that the best course would not be to find “that death was due to fracture of theskull caused bya man being knocked down by a car, there being insufficient evidence to show how he came to be knocked down.” There is quite a mystery about this stationary car. It is curious that neither of the two independent witnesses saw it. They say it might have been there but do not know definitely when it was not.

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