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The Woodhouse Lane fatality - 1925

Loughborough Monitor and Herald - 3rd December 1925

A pure accident - survivor exonerated

The motor-cycle collision which occurred at the Woodhouse-lane and Leicester-road corner, as the result of which Herbert Deacon Waterfield (23), bricklayer's labourer, of Woodhouse Eaves, died in Loughborough Hospital, was the result of an inquiry by the Loughborough Coroner (Mr H J Deane), with a jury, at Loughborough on Saturday. Mr T G New (Leicester) represented W T Haynes, the other rider concerned in the collision, and Mr R S Clifford, junr., appeared for the relatives of deceased.

Joe Deacon Waterfield, Maplewell Road, Woodhouse Eaves, identified the body as that of his son who, he said, had only ridden a motor cycle since July last.

Dr Doris Durie, house surgeon at Loughborough Hospital, said deceased was admitted in an unconscious condition, in which he remained until he died. Death was due to fracture at the base of the skull. There were no other serious injuries.

Thomas Pilkington, engineer's millwright, 46 Barrow Road, Quorn, said he was walking from Quorn to Loughborough, and when passing the end of Woodhouse Lane saw a motor cyclist approaching the main road. He was nearly in the centre of the road, and going rather fast. Witness did not hear him sound any warning. A combination was on the main road proceeding in the same direction as witness at a moderate pace, but witness did not hear the driver sound any warning. In view of what he saw witness put up his hand to stop the motor-cyclist who, when he reached the wide part of the road, was on his correct side. Witness thought he was going too fast to stop when he noticed witness's signal, and that he went across the road and tried to pass in front of the combination. Witness thought the combination must have swung to the right to avoid him, and they collided. Witness considered the motor cyclist was in the wrong, for he made no sign of stopping at the corner.

Replying to Mr New and Mr Clifford, witness said there still might have a collision had the combination not swerved to the right. The impact occurred close t the footpath on the east side of the road.

Cyril Hardy, 21 Barrow Road, Quorn, who was with the last witness, said he thought deceased took the corner inclining to be on his wrong side, and did not slow up to see if there was any traffic on the main road. His speed was too fast to take the corner, and he was on top of the combination before he saw it.

John H White, confectioner, Loughborough, who also saw the collision, said he noted particularly the careful way in which deceased came out of the lane. He took a wide sweep before turning towards Quorn. The combination was approaching on its proper side, but it swerved, and witness saw the collision was inevitable. He did not think for a moment that there would have been a collision if the combination had kept its course.

The witness was closely cross-examined by Mr New, who pointed out that his evidence was quite contrary to that of the previous witnesses, but Mr White adhered to his statement and said it seemed to him that the driver of the combination lost his head.

PC Cave gave evidence as to the position of the machines on the road when he reached the scene, and also to marks on the road.

Wm Thos Haynes, haulage contractor, Hillside, Mountsorrel, said he was driving a combination towards Loughborough, and was approaching the Woodhouse Lane end on his proper side. He saw the motor cycle "swish round the corner at a decent rate," and witness swerved to avoid him, but deceased cut straight into witness' sidecar.

The Coroner: Why didnít you carry straight on or bear to your left? - Because I thought he would go in between on his wrong side. Would it not have been better to draw nearer to your proper side that go out to your wrong side? - If I had gone straight on we should still have met.

Witness further said if deceased had been on his proper side he would have seen him twenty yards distant, and could have pulled up in five yards.

By Mr Clifford: Witness did not lose his head.

Was there not an emergency and you did the wrong thing? - I don't know as I did the wrong thing.

You know it is a dangerous corner? - Not exactly dangerous if it is taken properly.

Why didnít you bear to your proper side? - Because he was cutting my path.

In his charge to the jury, the Coroner said the evidence was not all in agreement. He thought the witnesses had told what they believed to be true, but, as so often happened, spectators from different points of view got different impressions. It seemed to him that Hayne's statements were corroborated by the marks on the road and that when he came into view of deceased he swerved to the offside to allow the cyclist to pass him on the wrong side.

The jury found the deceased's death was a pure accident, that Haynes did what any other driver would have done in similar circumstances, and they exonerated him from blame.

 Submitted on: 2010-12-29
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 1088
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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