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1908: Drowning fatality at Walkern

by janet on 28 October 2012 · 0 comments

1908: Drowning fatality at Walkern

Schoolboy loses his life while bathing

(From the Hertfordshire Mercury, 4th July 1908)

An inquest was held at the residence of Mr. F. C. Wright, Walkern, on Wednesday, by Francis Shillitoe, Esq coroner for the district, on view of the body of a boy named John Groom, Stevenage-lane, Wa1kern, who lost his life while bathing in the river on Tuesday.

Lizzie Groom, mother of the deceased, said he was nine years of age. She last saw him alive at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, when he left home to go to school. He was then quite well and had never had an illness in his life.

Ernest Chalkley, bricklayer, Wa1kern, said on Tuesday he was working on. the church when he saw the deceased and another boy named Hart bathing in the river near the Rectory. It was about 4.30 p.m. Boys and others often bathe here, but it was not allowed. He shouted to the boys to go away, but they would not. At 5.15 p.m. he heard a boy say that there was someone in the river and that some clothes were lying on the bank. Witness went and found the deceased in the river floating face downwards. Witness jumped in and got him out. There was about 7 ft of water at the spot. The deceased appeared quite dead. He sent for a doctor and a policeman.

William Cox, Church-end Walkern, a schoolboy, said the deceased” attended the same school as he did. He saw Groom at school on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon at 5.30 he went to the river in company with another boy and saw something in the water. They went and saw that it was the top of someone’s head. The body was under water. There were some clothes on the bank. He told Preston and the other men working on the church, and Chalkley went and got the deceased out of the water. When he first saw the deceased he was moving about a little.

William Athol Desmond King, registered medical practitioner Walkern, said on Tuesday, at about 5.0 p.m. he was sent for and told that there was a boy in the Rectory river. Witness went and found the deceased lying on the bank undressed. He examined him and found he was quite dead. There were no marks of violence or bruises. Death was caused through suffocation from drowning, the deceased had been dead about a quarter of an hour.

Albert Hart, a schoolboy, Froghall-lane, Walkern, said on Tuesday afternoon Groom asked him if he was going bathing. They went to the river and undressed, and went into the water. The deceased went into the middle of the river. Witness told Groom he would get drowned but the latter went up to his neck. The deceased then fell backwards and went under. He then tried to swim and splashed about with his arms. Witness went to the side of the river and tried to reach”Groom but could not. The deceased then disappeared under the water. Witness then went behind a shed and dressed and went away. He did not tell anyone as he was frightened. He had bathed there before.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death from drowning.”

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