Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 30 September 1939
Gas Masks Causes Accident?
Darfield Cyclist Killed
Early Morning Crash
Swerve Into Oncoming Car
The theory that a gas mask caused a cyclist to swerve and was therefore indirectly responsible for a fatal accident, was put forward at the inquest at Barnsley on Saturday on Harold Newsome (28), miner, of 37, Howard Street, Darfield.
Newsome was returning from work at Mitchell Main Colliery early on Thursday morning when his cycle came into collision with a car driven by Thomas Mulligan (18), miner, of 245, St. Sepulchre Gate, Doncaster, who, with his father, was proceeding to work at that mine. The accident occurred near the Bridge Inn, Darfield, on the Doncaster to Barnsley main road.
The enquiry was conducted by the coroner, Mr. C. J. Haworth, and Mr. A. Smith represented the driver of the car, who had made a statement.
Mary Newsome, the widow, said her husband, whose health and sight were good, went to work on his cycle as usual as Wednesday night. She was with him at the Beckett Hospital, Barnsley, when he died at 2-15 the same afternoon.
Crash of Glass.
Walter Barlow, grocer, 20, Doncaster Road, Darfield, said he was in bed at 5-50 a.m. on Thursday when he heard a crash and the sound of falling glass in the street. Looking through their window he saw a car standing about 45 yards up the road and facing Barnsley. The car was in a diagonal position about in the centre of the road, with a black object eight to ten feet away. As he went out Newsome was being carried off the road. About eight feet from the back of the car a cycle was lying on the roadway.
Witness was asked by Newsome’s uncle, Mr. T. Newsome, delegate of the Mitchell Main branch of the Y.M.A., whether from the sound of the crash there appeared to be any speeding. Witness said he could not answer the question.
P.c. Atkinson said he got to the scene of the accident about 6-15 a.m. and found Newsome lying unconscious in Barlow’s house. They were able to identify him by the name on his gas mask. The motor car had been moved. On the roadway, about 7ft. 6ins. from the offside facing Doncaster, was a pool of blood. The full width of the road was 23ft. 6ins. The front part of the cycle was badly damaged and the radiator of the car was smashed in, the near side head lamp, side lamp and spot light also being smashed.
The Coroner: It looked as though the collision had occurred on the near side? —Yes.
Witness said that from a bulge about six inches from the top of the centre of the radiator he judged that that was the point of the main impact. It was raining hard at the time and light and visibility were very poor. It was impossible to test the screen wiper as the windscreen was shattered. In reply to Mr. Smith, witness said Newsome’s gas mask was on his right side with the string over his left shoulder.
Mr. Smith: If by any mischance his gas mask had slipped it would come under his right arm and cause him to swerve involuntarily? Witness: Yes, it is quite possible.
Mr. Smith: From the pool of blood and the position of the damage it is obvious that the cyclist ran into the front of the car?
Witness replied that the man appeared to have hit the front of the car and bounced off on to his wrong side. Witness added that the screw of Newsome’s electric lamp was not switched on. When witness screwed it the light came on.
Mr. Smith: Then obviously he would have no light?—No, sir
James Mulligan, miner, 245, St. Sepulchre Gate, Doncaster, said they were on their way to work at Mitchell Main and he was sitting beside his son, who was driving. At the corner near the Bridge Inn he saw the cyclist about 20 yards away. The cyclist was travelling at a fast speed in the middle of the road without light Witness’s son was driving on his proper side about a foot away from the white line by which they were driving.
Out of Control
It seemed as though something caught under the cyclist’s arm and he ran into them. The object seemed to cause his arm to jerk and the cycle got out of control. Had the cyclist continued as he was travelling there would have been no accident. The cyclist struck the radiator and “came over the top,” and his son was pulled up “practically on the spot.” They were travelling at between 15 and 20 miles an hour. After the accident the cyclist lay on the roadway bleeding from the head.
Thomas Mulligan said he had been driving since last June. He had changed gear at the foot of the hill when the cyclist came toward them in the centre of the road and inclined to zig-zag. As soon as he saw the cyclist he knew there would be a collision as the cyclist was travelling too fast. Something under the cyclist’s arm caused him to swerve. Had the cyclist gone straight on there would have been no accident
In reply to Mr Newsome, witness said the cyclist was 15 to 20 yards away when he first saw him.
Mr Newsome: Why did you not stop?
Witness: he was on top of me before I could do anything. Witness also said the cyclist had no lights
Dr. Martin A. Goodwin, house surgeon at the Beckett Hospital, said Newsome was admitted at 7-15 a.m. on the day of the accident. There was a lacerated wound two or three inches long over the bridge of his nose, and he had a fractured skull. There was also a fracture of the right leg. The cause of death was fracture of the skull.
Driver Not To Blame.
The Coroner said that if they had the proper story, neither the question of speed nor the light had anything to do I with it. He added, “I am satisfied that on this evidence no one would attach any blame to the driver of the car.” Mr. Newsome said the lad had gone, but if only they could impress upon the motoring public the necessity of reducing speed while the lighting restrictions were in operation he felt that the sacrifice would not have been altogether in vain.
Mr Smith commented that witness Barlow had stated that he could see 45 yards up the road, 20 mike an hour in that light could not be considered excessive. Mr. Smith added that it might be recommended that cyclists carrying gas masks should have them properly secured. Gas masks were bulky things and could easily swing round. The witness Barlow said there had been quite a few accidents at that corner, and he thought a warning sign might be erected. It was not a steep hill but the road was very twisty at that point.
After the Coroner had recorded a verdict of “Death by Misadventure,” Mr. Smith extended sympathy to the family on behalf of the driver and his father. Mr. Newsome said they appreciated everything that had been done it the interests of the lad.