Did driving too fast cause the death of a soldier?

Hertfordshire Mercury, 22nd June, 1918


On Friday evening, whilst cycling along Nazeing Road, Waltham Abbey, Walter John Adams, a gunner to the R.G.A., stationed at Monkhams, Waltham Abbey, was thrown from his motor-cycle and sidecar and was later picked up dead.  The circumstances of the death were investigated by Dr Collins, Coroner, at the New Inn, Waltham Abbey, on Tuesday.

Dr Thompson said he was called to the Nazeing Road at about 11:00pm on Friday and there found the deceased lying dead in the roadway.  A post-mortem revealed the fact that the deceased man’s neck was dislocated as a result of his fall, and that this would cause instant death.  Lieutenant Harrison, stationed at Monkhams, said that he had examined the machine which the deceased had been riding, and found that both the controls had been shut off and that the lever was in top gear.  From that he concluded that the deceased was running at high speed.

He thought the accident was due to the fact that owing to the bad state of the road, the machine got out of control, ran into the centre of the road, swerved to the right, and finally overturned in a ditch.  The machine, which was a new one, was a Clyno 6 h.p.

A juror remarked that at the spot where the fatality occurred there was rather a dangerous corner.

Private Walter Clough, R.A.F., said that he had been riding with the deceased only a few minutes before the accident had happened.  The deceased drove him as far as the Royal Oak PH, Sewardstone.  Whilst the witness was with him, the machine ran perfectly well and the deceased, who was perfectly sober, had it under proper control.  The brakes were in proper working order.

Frederick John Cordell, Milton Street, Waltham Abbey, described how he found the body at about 10.30 p.m.  The deceased was lying under the motor-cycle which was partly overturned in a gully.  He went to get help from two soldiers, and together they lifted the machine off the deceased.

Police Sergeant Henry Skeates, Waltham Abbey, said that in his opinion from an observation made of the track of the machine, the deceased had misjudged the corner which was a few yards further on from the scene of the accident.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

This page was added on 20/01/2016.

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