[Mount Magnet Miner and Lennonville Leader 29 June 1907]
It is our painful duty to record a sad and fatal accident which occurred at the Morning Star Quartz Co’s mine on Tuesday. During the history of this mine, extending over a period of 18 years, until Tuesday, not a serious accident had occurred, though a large number of men has always been employed. At the close of the afternoon shift on Tuesday evening, 25th inst., W. Stephens, John Jenkin and Wesley Rowe (the deceased) were being hauled to the surface from the No. 3 level, in one of the tanks used for bailing. They had only proceeded about 20ft when they felt the tank jam. They immediately called out to a man at the No. 2 level to stop, and on looking to see what caused the jam they found Wesley Rowe between the tank and the side of the shaft, only his legs showing. How he got into the position in which he was found is unaccountable. Rowe was at once extricated from his terrible position and was conscious when taken to the surface. When asked if he could account in any way for the accident, he replied that he knew nothing. Dr Ashton was quickly on the scene and after examining the sufferer Rowe was taken to the hospital, where he remained conscious till his death, which occurred at 6 o’clock on Wednesday morning. Everything was done to make his last hours as peaceful as possible, and his sad fate cast quite a gloom over the Morning Star Camp and district. Rowe was terribly injured internally, the thorax and stomach being fearfully crushed.
Deceased has a brother living in Balmain (Sydney), and a married sister at Smithfield, also in New South Wales, and both have been informed of the sad end of their relative. His parents are dead. Rowe was about 30 years of age and had been in this district six months or thereabouts.
The funeral took place on Wednesday evening, and the remains were followed to the cemetery by a large number of friends. A wreath from the members of the Mt Magnet Brass Band, of which deceased was a member, was placed on the coffin. The Rev Dundas officiated at the grave and the mortuary arrangements were carried out by Mr T. Kennedy.
A magisterial inquiry was opened on Wednesday at 11 a.m. before Acting Coroner, Mr J. H. Thomas, J.P. The jury, consisting of Messrs Burke, Pritchard and Rollason, was sworn in. Dr Ashton was instructed to make a post mortem examination, and after the jury had viewed the body, the inquiry was adjourned till Tuesday next, 2nd July.
[Mount Magnet Miner and Lennonville Leader 6 July 1907]
The adjourned inquiry into the fatal accident which occurred at the Morning Star mine on June 25 was held at the Court Home on Thursday, before Acting-Coroner J. H. Thomas, Esq, J.P., and a jury consisting of Messrs Burke(foreman), Pritchard and Kollason. Mr Landsr, Inspector of Mines, was present and Mr W H Bird appeared for the Morning Star Co. Wm Stephens, sworn, stated be was a miner residing at the Morning Star mine; knew deceased; was with him on Tuesday night, 25th June, they and John Jenkins were working in a stope at the 250 ft level. After finishing the shift they went to the plat to be hauled up; the tank was lowered to the plat. I got inside the tank with a light and said to Rowe and Jenkins one get on one corner of the tank and one on the opposite corner, ready to ascend; Rowe was on the northern side of the shaft. F. Allen at the 200 ft level gave the signal to hoist at our request and we began to ascend and had not gone more than 20 or 25 feet when suddenly the tank jammed. I said
Whats up, and called out
Stop us, and we stopped instantly. I sprang up with the candle to see what was the matter and saw Wesley Rowe jammed between the tank and the side of the shaft, his whole body with the exception of his legs was out of sight. I said
Wesley’s killed. I called out to F Allen to lower the tank meanwhile Jenkins and myself took hold of Rowe’s legs and held him while the tank was lowered. When deceased was freed he fell into the tank on me and I examined him by the light of the candle and thought he was dead. We placed him in an erect position and were then hoisted to the surface. While ascending, I felt his legs move and he groaned. I remained with him on the surface till 1 o’clock, until after the arrival of the doctor, during which time Rowe became conscious.
By the Jury: I cannot account for deceased’s position when the tank was stopped.
By Mr Bird: Deceased was a competent miner; we fired two holes previous to leaving the stope; this would not vitiate the atmosphere where we were, 60 or 70 feet away ; the tank was perfectly safe; I asked deceased how he fell and he said "I don’t know."
By Inspector Lander: The cage is safer than a tank; the reason why the man was riding on the tank was that the steam pump in the bottom level was flooded and the tanks had to be put on to clear the water. The two men on the tank could reach the signal line if they wanted to; so far as I know, deceased enjoyed good health, be never said anything about feeling unwell; I think Bowe was a nervous man; I know that he was accustomed to work in a shaft; he appeared nervous when firing.
Dr Ashton gave evidence as to being called to attend Rowe. He found the man semi-conscious, with the left side of his chest staved in, right arm broken above the elbow and suffering from shock; there was symptoms that one of the lungs had been pierced by broken ribs; advised Mr Bryant to inform deceased’s friends that the injury was serious. Rowe was admitted to the hospital about 1 a.m. on the 26th. Deceased made no statement, but could answer questions and said he had nothing to say regarding the accident. He died at 6 a.m. Held a post mortem examination, there were extensive bruises on the body, a fracture of the base of the skull, left collar bone broken, eight ribs fractured, right arm broken above the elbow, left lung perforated by broken ribs, and liver completely torn across; other organs were healthy. The immediate cause of death was shock and internal hemorrhage.
By Mr Bird: No apparent weakness of the heart or affection of the nerves, or any chronic complaint.
John Jenkins gave evidence similar to that given by Stephens.
By Inspector Lander: Considered the tank a safe thing to ride on and still thought so. There was a possibility of three men getting inside the tank; Rowe could reach the signal line from his side, I could not; I had ridden on the tank two or three times before the accident; rode on the tank on account of water in the shaft; considered it necessary on each occasion. Never climbed from 250 ft to the surface on the ladder, but Stephens said he had done so; it had not been suggested to witness that he could travel by the ladderway instead of going upon the tank.
By Mr Bird: Could give no reason for the accident; do not consider that blame attaches to anyone for the accident; I knew the ladderway was there and would have used it if I considered the other way unsafe; the tank and shaft were in good condition; knew Rowe 6 or 8 weeks; do not consider he was a nervous man.
By the Jury: We were side by side on opposite sides of the tank; do not think our position would make any difference to the balance of the tank; the shaft is close timbered all the way.
Adjournment for lunch.
Fred Allen, sworn, stated that he had known Rowe for about three months; remembered June 25 last; was at the 200 ft level about 10.45 p.m.; I saw deceased, Stephens and Jenkins get on the tank at the 250 ft level; they asked me to knock them up which I did; I saw the rope move and a second or two later I heard a cry from Jenkins to stop the tank; I looked down and saw only one man on top of the tank and concluded an accident had occurred; the men said they thought Rowe was dead; I suggested that they should lower the tank and after they got deceased in I climbed to the surface.
By Inspector Lander: Have been a miner for 12 years and worked on the Star mine for 5 years; had been raised and lowered on the water tank about twice during that term; did not know if it was a safe method but would rather ride on the tank than climb the ladders; would feel safer on the tank; thought four could get in the tank comfortably and safely; was lowered on the tank the day of the accident; remembered one of the officials saying something about using the ladders instead of riding on the tank; still of the opinion that he would rather ride on the edge than inside the tank.
By Mr Bird: Could give no reason for the accident and considered no blame was attachable to anyone; the ladderway was in good order and any one wishing to use it could do so; men so far as he knew alwavs rode on the edge of the tank; there were do in structions to the contrary.
By the Jury: Jenkins was on the north side of the shaft and Stephens in the tank holding a light.
D Morgan, sworn, stated he was a certificated engine-driver; knew deceased by sight; was driving the winding engine on 25th June; sent tank to No 3 level about 11 p.m., received signal to do so; it remained down 2 or 3 minutes, then the signal to hoist was given; had raised the tank 20 or 30 feet when I felt it jam and commenced to stop the engine, and had just stopped it when I received the signal to stop; in a few minutes received signal to lower and let the tank back 4 or 5 feet, and a little later received signal to hoist men to the surface.
To Inspector Lander: Obtained first-class certificate in Cue or Day Dawn 5 or 6 years ago; have worked 6 or 7 winders since; have held present position about 2½ years; engine was working correctly on the date mentioned, also the depth indicators; it is a geared engine; had so little steam on that I felt the tank jam; no jerking of any kind.
By the Jury: Engine going very slowly when tank jammed, had little more than started.
R Coon, sworn, stated that he was manager of the Morning Star mine ; Rowe had been employed on the mine for about three months; on the night of the accident deceased was working with two others in the stope at the No. 3 level; saw him at 3 o’clock, just before he went on shift; I visited the mine about 11 p.m. on account of F. Allen reporting to me that a man was injured; was at the mouth of the shaft when Rowe was brought up, supported by his two mates; I helped to take him out of the tank and carry him to the engine-house door; sent for medical assistance and then obtained a stretcher and removed Rowe to the front of the boiler. After the doctor had examined him be was taken to the hospital, about 2 a.m.
By Inspector Dander: It is not usual to put on the water tank before raising the men; on this night there was water in the bottom level; at 7 o’clock that morning, after the men had gone below, I removed the cages and put on the tank until 11 a.m., I then removed the tank and put on the cage for filling cyanide vats; we finished this at 2.15 p.m., and the braceman, J Perfect, came to me about putting the tanks on; gave instructions not to put the tanks on until after the men went down at 3 o’clock and changed shift with the cage; nothing but water was drawn from the time the afternoon shift went on till the time of the accident; the water was interfering with the work at the time the tanks were put on: the immediate future working of the mine depended on the bottom level being driven; this was really an exceptional case of using the tank for raising men; I think it a safe method; the tank would carry three inside comfortably and safely; would insist in the future on the men getting inside the tank; only the three men were raised by the tank that shift; the edge of the tank was not greasy.
By Mr Bird: Rowe came to me as an experienced miner; a proper ladder way was provided which the men could use and they were instructed to that effect; the shaft and tank were in perfect order; had been on the mine over 12 years and there had not been a serious or fatal accident before; told the men the night previous to be very careful riding on the tank.
By the Jury: The tank may have been used three or four times by the men in my experience on the mine; there was a space of six or seven inches between toe tank and side of shaft; no oscillation of the tank; the guides and skids are a good fit.
D. L. Doolette, manager of the St George, sworn, stated, on the morning of the 26th June, the Registrar and Mr Bryant told him there had been an accident at the Morning Star mine, and he was instructed by the Registrar under Section 27 of the Mines Act, 1904, to proceed to the mine and make an examination; when I got to the mine bailing operations were in progress; I had the tank on which the accident occurred taken off, it was in good order; I then had the cage put on and, accompanied by Stephens, descended to No. 3 level and was then slowly drawn up the shaft and examined between there and No. 2 level; found everything in good order. I then went to the surface and gave permission for bailing to be resumed.
By Inspector Lander: Do not think shaft had been interfered with between the time of the accident and when I visited the mine; was of the opinion that raising men on a tank in the manner referred to was perfectly safe provided the men were in fall possession of their faculties; considered deceased must have become unconscious as he evidently made no exclamation of any kind; I consider, under the circumstances, that the manager was justified in using the tank as much as he possibly could in developing the mine and keeping the water out; three men could safely get inside the tank.
By the Jury: Did not, think that it was possible if Rowe suddenly looked up the shaft that his head would touch the timber, as he would be holding on the rope; did not consider the tank could cant sufficiently to make deceased strike the side in any way.
The Acting-Coroner briefly summed up and the jury after a short retirement, returned the following verdict—
We find that the deceased Wesley Rowe died on the 26th ult. from shock and internal hemorrhage, according to medical evidence, the result of injuries received in an accident at the Morning Star mine on the 25th June, 1907, by falling off the tank, and became jammed between the tank and the timber of the shaft. There is no evidence to show how or why deceased fell from the tank. We also consider it purely an accident and no blame is attachable to anyone.