– A magisterial inquiry was held before Mr. H.
Pinchin JP., Coroner for the District, at Dunolly, yesterday, upon the death of a child named
Mabel Smith, whose parents reside at Dunolly. The following evidence was taken:- Claude
McDonald Smith, a joiner’s machinist, agve evidence to the effect that he had seen the body of
the deceased, Mable Smith, who was his daughter, aged four years and five months. On the
previous (Sunday) morning, witness left home with the deceased in a sulky, and drove over to his
parents place on the Singleton Common. The horse witness was driving was a quite pony. Upon
driving homewards, and passing near Mrs. Bailey’s orchard, at a narrow part on to the culvert
post. To endeavour to avoid this, witness pulled the horse to one side, where there was a steep
incline of some 2 feet 6 inches. In trying to manage the horse witness could not attend the child,
who screamed and fell between the body of the sulky and the wheel. Witness got out of the
vehicle as soon as possible and picked the child up in an unconscious state. Witness took the
child to Dr. Maffey, who, after examination, ordered the removal of the child to the Hospital,
where death occurred about 4 o’clock that afternoon. When the child was falling out of the sulky
witness tried to save it, but failed. Dr. Maffey deposed to having examined the child when first
brought to him. There was a curved wound about 11/2 inches in length over the left eye, which
extended to the bone. There were several scratches about the face and free bleeding from the
right ear, but no other marks on the body. After inducing regular breathing, witness had
deceased removed to the Hospital. Deceased never regained consciousness and died about a
quarter to 4 in the afternoon, death being due to a fracture at the base of the skull, which may
have been the result of an accident. The Coroner found that deceased died from the effects of
injuries accidently received while being driven by her father in a sulky.
There were a number of nasty, sometimes fatal, accidents back in the days when horses were
used as transport – the above fatal accident was my father’s elder sister.