NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
NYDIA BAY LOGGING ACCIDENT
Evening Post, Volume LXXXI, Issue 26, 1 February 1911, Page 3
THE NYDIA BAY TRAGEDY
BLENHEIM, 31st January.
At the inquest on the victims of the fatality at Nydia Bay on Saturday, the evidence showed that the engine was bringing several logs-laden trucks from the bush, and when about three-quarters of a mile from the mill in Opouri Valley, on a perfectly level road, the locomotive ran off the line and crashed into a big stump a few feet away.
Coupled to the locomotive was a tender with a 400-gallon tank. Next were two trucks carrying logs. The engine was in charge of Birss, O'Brien acting as brakesman, while Corliss, Anderson, and Climo were in the tender. When the engine struck the stump, the impetus caused a log on the first truck to lunge forward, and it struck the tank with such terrific force as to crumple it up. Anderson and O'Brien were hurled against the boiler, the valves of which were snapped off, allowing such a volume of steam to escape that the two men were almost parboiled. Corliss seems to have been thrown clear of the wreck. Neither Climo nor Birss know how they got out. When the rush of steam subsided, Anderson and O'Brien were lifted out dead, and Corliss was so badly hurt that it was seen he could not recover. Climo had very severe injuries to his face, and Birss suffered chiefly from shock.
The medical evidence was to the effect that Corliss had two compound fractures of the right leg, and the whole left side of the chest was crushed in. Anderson's injuries were a compound fracture of the left arm and a fractured skull, the whole of the back of the head being crushed in. O'Brien sustained a dreadful wound in the throat, a fractured jaw, and a broken neck. The coroner and jury visited the scene of the accident, but were unable to find any reason, for the disaster. At the time the engine was running about five or six miles an hour. After available evidence had been taken, the inquest was adjourned untill Birss and Climo were sufficiently recovered to give testimony.
Thanks to John Wilson for this verdict from National Archives, Wellington as the deaths do not appear to have been registered.
Jury verdict: "That deceased met their deaths through the engine accidentally leaving the line, and that no blame is attached to anyone". The engine driver was Arthur Anderson Bliss. O'Brien was a stoker on the loco and Corliss and Climo were in the tender, returning from work. O'Brien had worked there for two years, but Corliss and Anderson for only ten days. Evidence from John Craig, the managing director at length; he said those travelling on the loco who were tramlayers were "travelling at their own risk". Bushmen John Bolter, Walter Prentice and William Mayes also gave evidence. Bliss said it was always the custom to ride on the loco (train) to and from work, while William Francis Climo said it was not usual.
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