|Article taken from Rushden Echo 6th March, 1925 transcribed by Gill Hollis
FATAL ACCIDENT AT RUSHDEN
SHOCKING DEATH OF LITTLE GIRL
DANGER OF RUNNING INTO ROADWAY
JURY EXONERATE DRIVER
A shocking accident happened in Church-parade, Rushden, on Wednesday, just after 6 p.m., when a little girl, Brenda Mary Chettle, aged ten, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Chettle, of 83 Duck-street, was accidentally killed by a motor-car driven by Mr. Arthur Cave very slowly from the Bedford direction round the bend in front of the church. Unhappily, the child did what thousands of others do to the risk of their lives ran out into the narrow roadway without taking care to see whether there was any sort of vehicle about. Had the car been but two or three yards further off she would probably have been uninjured, though the driver would have had an unpleasant moment in avoiding her. As it was, the car was only about its own length off when she ran out. To make matters worse, the girl is said to have turned, faced the car, and appeared to trip. She put up her hands in terror, but could not get clear. It is also perfectly certain that if Mr. Cave had turned instantly to the right and smashed the car into the wall, the left side of the body would still have knocked her down and the rear wheel would probably have passed over the child as well, with the same fatal results and perhaps severe injuries to the driver and his son-in-law, who happened to be riding beside him. While to have turned to the left would have meant almost sure death to several others. So that humanly speaking, the accident could not possibly have been avoided once the child had run out into the street. Eye-witnesses of the accident independently arrived at this opinion.
Mr. Cave pulled up in an extraordinarily short distance proof of his slow speed and he and the other man with him rendered all assistance to get the injured child to Mr. W. P. Orrell’s chemist’s shop. Mr. Orrell, seeing that the child was
advised that she be taken at once to Dr. Muriset’s surgery happily but a few moments’ walk away. The child was carried very carefully she was unconscious and Dr. Muriset happened to be in. Although just alive when she got there, the little girl expired in a few seconds. She is one of a large family. The news came as a terrible blow to the parents. A pathetic incident is that the child met her father from work only about 20 minutes before she was killed. Much sympathy has been expressed with the bereaved parents.
An inquest was conducted at the Railway Inn, Rushden, yesterday afternoon, by Mr. J. C. Parker (Deputy Coroner). There was a jury of ten, Messrs, E. E. Perkins, H. O. Miller, F. G. Lilly, J. A. Shaw, C. Robinson, F. Tassell, C. Bennett, A. Prigmore, C. W. Evans, and W. E. Griffin. Mr. Perkins was elected foreman. Mr. G. A. T. Vials (solicitor) represented Mr. Cave, and there were present Supt. Macleod, D. C. C., of Wellingborough, Inspector Baxter, of Rushden, and P. C. Redley (Coroner’s officer).
Charles Edward Chettle, of 83, Duck-street, shoehand, father of the child, identified the body as that of his child Brenda Mary, aged ten. He said that her eyesight and hearing were good. He last saw her alive about 5.40 the previous evening, when she met him and was all right.
Dr. O. A. J. N. Muriset said that between 6 and 6.15 the child was brought to his surgery and was just alive, but she died within a few seconds of his seeing her. She had a severe wound on the back of her head and a bruise over her left eye. There were no other marks. Death was probably caused by fracture of the skull and injury to the brain.
Arthur Cave, “The Hutt,” Higham-road, Rushden, said that about 6.5 p.m. on Wednesday he was driving his car, a Hudson “Super Six” open touring car, along High-street, coming into Rushden from the Bedford road. When he got into Church-parade near Mr. W. P. Orrell’s shop he
TRAVELLED VERY SLOWLY
round the bend and sounded his horn, as he always did. He saw about five or six little girls playing on the pavement near the window of the chemist’s shop. All of a sudden one little girl rushed out when he was only about two or three yards from her. She ran straight in front of the car, right into the radiator. Witness slipped the clutch out and put on the brake as quickly as ever he could, but it was too late. It was done in a second or two, without any chance of preventing the accident. He did not know what part of the car had struck her. She seemed to trip and turn round; he did not know whether she had been caught by the springs that she should do so. He estimated his speed at from eight to ten miles per hour. A young man named Bridge had lifted the child up from underneath the car when he (witness) stopped and got out. Witness’s son-in-law and he assisted to get her into the chemist’s shop and then down to the doctor’s surgery straight away. They got to the doctor’s in a minute or so. On his car were two horns. It was the electric horn which he had sounded. Sometimes people told him he sounded the horn too frequently, but he always felt safer in doing so when there were children about. He was very grieved at the accident, especially as it should have ended fatally.
(Mr. Cave, overcome with emotion, was unable to continue his evidence for a moment.)
In reply to the Coroner, he said it was daylight at the time.
Mr. Vials : What distance did you pull up in?
Mr. Cave : About three yards.
Mr. Vials : Did you notice whether all these children were playing together?
Witness : I saw them all on the path and lively, but what they were doing I don’t know. This little girl I saw coming out. I screamed out, because I could see what would happen.
James Percy Johns Engineer Commander, R. N., c/o The Admiralty, said that he was sitting beside Mr. Cave in the car. He estimated the speed at
TEN MILES PER HOUR.
The car was roughly in the middle of the road. There was no other car or traffic at the time. As the car came round the bend there were about half-a-dozen children playing in the road. When Mr. Cave sounded his horn they ran off the road on to the pavement. That would be when the car was at ten yards distance. As the car got near the children one child ran straight out in front of the car. The car would then be about two yards away at most. He could only say it was the front of the car that struck her. She ran out, seemed to realise the car was there and try to get back. Mr. Cave pulled up at once. Both front and back near wheels had gone over the child, and as he got out she was being picked up at the back a yard or so from the car. He felt the wheels go over the child. She was one of the group of children they had seen. It was quite impossible to have missed the child. There was no time even to swerve to the right.
Mr. Griffin : Could you see the girl in front of the radiator?
Witness : Just as she fell, that is all.
Harold Sidney Bridge, shoehand, 32 Midland-road, Raunds, employed at the Tecnic Boot Company, Rushden, said that at 6 p.m. on Wednesday he was near Mr. Orrell’s shop in Church-parade. He saw at the Church-street corner about five or six girls playing about “all in a bunch.” They went on the road and “dodged back” on to the pavement when they heard the motor-horn. They continued playing about on the pavement. He saw a motor come round the bend very steadily. One girl ran into the road, put out her hands, and seemed to hesitate and turned as if to come back on to the pavement. The car knocked her down, the near front wheel catching her, probably the dashboard as well. He believed the wheel
WENT OVER HER NECK,
and he thought the back wheel passed over her body. The car had then passed him, and he went after the car, which was nearly in the middle of the road and about four or five yards beyond him. He picked up the child and took her into the chemist’s. Mr. Orrell advised that she be taken to the doctor. Whichever side the driver had turned, even if into the wall, the car would have caught her. Nor could the car have stopped quicker, because the back wheels were only just by the girl. The accident, in his opinion, was absolutely unavoidable.
Fred Jones, foreman boot clicker, 131 Newton-road, Rushden, said that he was at the bottom of Newton-road opposite to Mr. Orrell’s shop at the time. He heard a motor horn and saw a motor-car approaching from the Bedford direction, travelling very slowly. He also saw some little girls playing “Tick” touching one another and running away. He saw one little girl dart out directly in front of the car. The car knocked her over, the front wheel going, apparently, over her chest. He ran to her assistance, but some-one else was taking her into the shop. He did not notice any other traffic about. In his opinion, it was a pure accident which could not have been avoided.
Summing up, the Coroner said he did not think the jury would have any difficulty in finding that the child died as a result of the injuries received through being knocked down and possibly run over by the motor-car. That being so, the only other point arising was whether Mr. Cave, who was unfortunately driving the car, was in any way to blame. Mr. Cave had told them that he was driving slowly, probably at ten miles an hour, round the corner. Mr. Cave knew Rushden very well, and consequently he did drive slowly. Also, he told them that he sounded his horn. Both these statements had been corroborated by two independent witnesses, and also by Mr. Cave’s son-in-law. Probably the jury would say, having heard the evidence by independent witnesses, that the accident was unavoidable.
The foreman, having consulted with his colleagues, said the jury found that the child met her death by injuries accidentally received by being knocked down and run over. The jury fully exonerated the driver from all blame, and expressed their sympathies with the parents of the child.
Mr. Vials, on behalf of Mr. Cave, also expressed sympathy with the bereaved parents. Mr. Cave was very grieved indeed. His great regret was that there was no way in which the accident could have been avoided.