Mexborough and Swinton Times August 26, 1938
Old Man Dies After Accident,
Knocked Down By Car At Conisborough
“What’s The Matter?” Query
A verdict of “Accidental Death,” the jury expressing the opinion that, the driver, of the motor car “might have lost his head” owing to his youth, was returned at an inquest at the Fullerton Hospital on Wednesday, on William Alfred Clifford (78), retired wood turner, who lived alone at 7 Duttons Road, Conisborough. Clifford was knocked down,,by a car in Low Road, Conisborough, on Tuesday, August, 16th, and died in the Fullerton Hospital on Monday, from a fracture of the base of the skull and cerebral haemorrhage.
Began To Hurry.
The Doncaster District Coroner, Mr W. H. Carlile, said that at 11-30 am on August 16th, Cyril Slater, accompanied by his mother, was driving a saloon car along Low Road, Conisborough, from the direction of Denaby. As he approached the Council Offices he saw an old man standing on the footpath on his off side. Clifford then started to walk across the road into the path of the car and, when the driver sounded his hooter, he began to hurry. Then was an impact and as a result of the injuries he sustained the old man died in the Hospital on Monday.
George. G. Clifford, 23, Prior Road, Conisborough, haulage hand, said that he had last seen his father alive at his (the son’s) home on the day before the accident. His father then said that he , had never felt- better. He was a bit defective in both sight and hearing, but , was fairly active for his age. He was used to walking about by himself and could walk at a normal speed. Witness said that he had visited his father in hospital after the accident, but he had not been able to tell him anything about it.
Screech of Brakes.
Walter Bramhall, 19 St. David’s Road, Conisborough, a coal miner, who was walking along Low Road at the time of the accident in the direction of Denaby, said that just after he had passed the Council Offices he noticed a small saloon car diming towards him at a normal speed and on its proper side of the road.
A fecirseconds, after it had passed him he heard a screeching of brakes and, turning round, he saw a man lying on his right side on the ground two or three yards from the left-hand side, of the road. He was lying diagonally, across the road with his head towards the. Council-Offices and the car was standing right against him, facing towards the railway line and with its near front wheel a few inches on, the footpath.
Witness, who said he was an ambulance man, told the Coroner that he gave what assistance he could and later accompanied the man to the Fullerton HospItal.. On the way the man said; “What’s the matter? Have I been knocked down?” He said that he did, not remember a. hooter being sounded just before the accident.
When the driver of the car, Cyril Slater (17), High Royd, Grange Road, Bessacar, near Doncaster, was called to, give evidence, the Coroner asked if the accident had been reported to the Insurance Company. Receiving a negative reply, the Coroner said that if it bad been he would “in all probability have been represented by a solicitor.
The Coroner pointed out to Slater that he could not be compelled to give evidence and, that anything he said would be taken down and might later be used against him. He said, “If you feel certain that you did everything possible to avoid the accident you should give evidence; but if there is any doubt in your mind you need not do so.” Slater elected to give evidence and his step-father agreed to this.
In Second Gear.
Slater, on oath, said that he worked as a milk roundsman with his stepfather, Mr. C. R., Hill, and that he had been driving since April 21st of this year, having passed his test in June. At 11-30 am on Tuesday, August 16th, he was driving towards Conisborough along Low Road, accompanied by his mother, who sat on his left at the front. When about opposite the Council Offices he saw an old man standing on the footpath on the off side of the road. Before this something had gone wrong with the car and it had been repaired at a garage in Mexborough, but was only able to travel in second gear, his speed at this time being about 15 m.p.h.
He first saw the man when he was 15 or 20 yards away and, when he started to cross the road, he sounded his hooter. The man, who he now knew to be Clifford, then began to rush into the path of the car. Witness “jumped on” the brakes and applied the handbrake and swerved to his left in an attempt to miss the man, but he caught him with the right-hand front mudguard. Clifford dropped towards his windscreen and when he pulled up the man was lying opposite him.
The Coroner: You know, 15 m.p.h. is a crawling speed and anyone going at that speed could pull up almost dead.
Witness: I braked as hard as I could and stopped very quickly.
The Coroner: You are sure that you did not catch your accelerator instead of your brake and that you did not lose your head?
Witness: Yes, sir. I just put my brakes on as hard as I could and swerved.
Slater added that he had kept his eye on the man all the time. He first realised that there would be a difficulty in missing him when: the man started to rush across. That was when he was about six feet away. Witness said he was quite certain be had sounded his hooter. There was another car coming in the opposite direction not many yards away.’
Questioned by the jury, witness said he applied his brakes when about 12 feet away from the man, and he pulled up just opposite him. His brakes were in good order.
Slater’s mother, Mrs. Agnes Hill, who was a passenger in the car, said that she first saw Clifford when he was 15 yards away, and he was then standing on the footpath in front of the Council Offices. When the, car was about nine yards away the man stepped off the path and started to cross the road. Clifford was about five yards away when he started to rush, and then the driver applied his brakes and swerved towards the pavement. The car was almost stationary when the man was hit by the right-hand mudguard.
The Coroner: Can you understand why it should be necessary to jump on the brakes, as your son said he did, when the car was moving slowly in second gear?
Witness: My son was a bit excited and he exaggerated when he said he did.
Dr. D. T. Clarke said that Clifford was admitted to the Hospital about noon on August 16th, suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, a fracture of the left humerus, and multiple abrasions. He died about 3-30 p.m. on Monday, death being due to the fracture of the skull and cerebral haemorrhage. This
The Coroner said it was unfortunate that there were no independent witnesses of the actual accident. It was difficult, he said, to understand how anyone travelling in second gear could possibly have caused the accident. It was difficult to keep a car going in second gear without accelerating, and there seemed to be no reasonable explanation of how the man was knocked down. It was obvious that the youth was not driving at a reckless speed or in a reckless way. There had been some discrepancy in the evidence with regard to distances, but he thought this was because the witnesses were unable properly to judge distances and not because they wished deliberately to tell lies.
After a short retirement the jury returned the above verdict, and the foreman expressed sympathy with the relatives of the dead man.