A dreadful accident for a small child

Hertfordshire Mercury, 23rd March, 1918


The announcement that a number of aeroplanes were to give a display over the town of Hertford on Saturday afternoon in connection with Business Men’s Week, and would drop vouchers entitling the finders to free War Savings Certificates, naturally resulted in a large number of people turning out to witness the event.  Fore Street was crowded and it was whilst the crowd was most dense that a shocking accident occurred that resulted in the death of a little girl named Alice Healey (5), the daughter of Patrick Healey, a munition worker, of 5 City Street.  The little one was crossing Fore Street near the Post Office when she was knocked down by a motor-car and killed instantly.  An inquest was held on the Monday afternoon at the Shire Hall, Hertford, by Mr P.P. Longmore, when Mr J. Stevens was chosen foreman of the jury.

Mrs Healey, the mother of the girl, said that on Saturday last, the deceased had left home at about 1.30pm to go on an errand for her.  She did not return, but went with some other children to see some aeroplanes.  The next that the witness heard of her was when she received a message that her daughter had been knocked down by a motor-car.  She later saw her dead at the Post Office.

Herbert Law, of Hanyards Farm, Cuffley, a motor engineer, said that on Saturday last he was driving a limousine landaulette motor-car from Cuffley to the G.E.R. station at Hertford.  There was a gentleman inside the car.  He had passed the Shire Hall and was going up Fore Street where there was a great number of people.  He was driving slowly, and as he was driving through he had an impression that a child had run out from the left hand side and the car hit her.  He pulled up as quickly as possible.  The affair had happened in an instant.  He was only going at about 3 or 4 mph as the people were almost touching the car on both sides.  There was only just room  for the car to pass, and most of the people seemed to be looking up into the air.

George Griffin, of the Bull Hotel, Hoddesdon, said that he was in Fore Street, near the Post Office, on the Saturday afternoon.  The police were clearing a way for the motor-car which was only going at about 4 mph.  When near the Corn Exchange, the deceased ran in front of the car, the bonnet striking her on the left hand side.  She was pushed over and the car passed right over her.

Police Sergeant Hadder said that the car was not travelling any faster than he was walking.  He heard a thud and a shout and, on looking round, he saw the deceased lying on her back at the rear of the car, both near wheels of which had passed over her head.  The driver pulled up immediately, almost in the car’s length.  The child was dead and was taken to a room at the back of the Post Office, where she was seen by Dr Hall.  The driver gave every assistance and was very depressed about the accident.

Dr H.S.W. Hall said that death was due to fracture at the back of the skull.

The Coroner said that it was a very unfortunate affair and that it was obvious no-one was to blame.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and expressed the opinion that no blame whatever was due to the driver.

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