[Editor: This article, about a coroner’s inquest regarding the drowning of a man in a boating accident, was published in The Clarence & Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW), 6 April 1878.]
An inquest was held before Mr. Alfred Lardner, coroner, and a jury of twelve, at Mr. Henry Sheather’s Taloumbi Inn, Palmer’s Island, last Saturday, on the body of Mark Shelton, found drowned.
Benjamin Wright, farmer, Goodwood Island, deposed to finding the body floating in the river, and giving information to the police at Maclean.
Arthur O’Connor, storekeeper, Iluka, deposed to leaving Iluka for Maclean in a boat in company with deceased, Frank O’Connor, James M’Kee, Mrs. Eugenie, and her son on the 26th March, when opposite the entrance to the North Arm, the wind shifted, and on gibing the boat witness lifted the boom clear over the heads of the deceased and Mrs. Eugenie; in consequence of their not moving up to windward quickly the boat took in some water; eased off the sheet to steady the boat; they kept moving about until the water came over the lee side and sank; witness’ brother and M‘Kee got on to the boat; Mrs. Eugenie and deceased were both in the water; swam to Mrs. Eugenie and got her on to the boat; never saw deceased after the boat went over; deceased could swim well, but he never showed after the boat after the boat capsized; the boat is a strong ship’s boat, 20 feet long; has been accustomed to manage a boat since he was fourteen years of age; deceased had a glass of ale before starting, and brought a bottle of gin with him in the boat; he drank from the bottle once; did not observe that any of the party were intoxicated; they were all strangers to witness; attributes the accident entirely to their moving about while the boat was tacking; cautioned them every time the boat was gibed; Mrs. Eugenie went against the deceased and caused the boat to capsize.
Frank O’Connor and James M‘Kee gave similar evidence, the latter stating they were half an hour in the water before being rescued by Miss M‘Kay.
Christina M‘Kay, sworn, deposed, she was fourteen years of age, and resided on Palmer’s Island; on Tuesday afternoon a boy named Robert Carr informed me that a boat had capsized in the river, and the people were in the water; it was nearly a mile from my father’s house; took my father’s boat and pulled to their assistance; when witness got to them Arthur O’Connor and Mrs. Eugenie were struggling in the water; M‘Kee got first into the boat over the bows; the boy got next in; Frank O’Connor next; and then he helped Mrs. Eugene in; Arthur O’Connor was then taken into the boat insensible; nothing could be seen of deceased; pulled a mile to them, and made them get in over the bows so as not to capsize the boat; Arthur O’Connor was senseless for some time after being landed; did not tow the sunken boat ashore.
Constable Mulhall deposed to examining the body and finding no marks of violence or injury, and that it presented the usual appearance of death by drowning.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally drowned,” and added the following rider:— “The jury desire to express their high appreciation of the courage and promptitude with which Miss Christina M‘Kay proceeded to the assistance of the parties struggling in the river, by which some lives at least were saved from drowning.”
The Clarence & Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW), 6 April 1878, p. 2 (column 6)
See also: “A heroic rescue”, The Clarence & Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW), 6 April 1878, p. 2 (column 3)
lee = the lee side of a ship or other vessel (the point or quarter towards which the wind blows on a ship); or, in a wider context, away from the wind
rider = an extra statement added to a previous statement; a statement which adds a change (or changes), extra information, or clarification to a previous statement (especially further information or an additional clause, or clauses, added to a legal document); a statement made by a jury, in addition to its verdict, as a non-binding recommendation to a judge (such as a sentencing recommendation)
[Editor: Changed “Mr Henry” to “Mr. Henry” (in line with the previous usage in this article); “Mrs. Eugene went” to “Mrs. Eugenie went” (in line with the several other spellings of the same surname in this article).]