FATAL ACCIDENT TO THE DEWSBURY AND LEEDS CARRIER

On Wednesday forenoon last, Benjamin Auty, the carrier between Dewsbury and Leeds, met with an accident of so serious a character as put a termination to his life in the evening of the same day. He left home in the forenoon with his wagon, which contained goods amounting to 18 cws, and after passing through the High-street of Dawgreen, he turned the horseís head down the steep incline past Edward Autyís spirit store, with the object of getting down to the Huddersfield Road. The steepness of the road, and the fact that it was covered with hard-trodden snow, in some places as smooth as ice, rendered the descent exceedingly dangerous. When he had reached the vaults of Mr. Auty, he found that the wheels of his wagon began to slide in such a manner as to annoy the horse very much. Under the idea that he might be able to steady the animal and render him less frightened, he took hold of its head, and in this way he was enabled to proceed a little further on his way. The horse, which is a very spirited animal, soon renewed its restlessness, occasioned not unlikely by the wagon sliding violently against it, and plunged forward at a rapid pace for about 90 yards, dragging the deceased along with it, but who still held the horseís head. Finding apparently that his position was one of extreme danger, he relaxed his hold. He had scarcely done so, however, when he missed his footing, and fell heavily to the ground. The affrighted animal feeling itself at liberty, rushed down the hill, and dragged the two off wheels of the wagon over the unfortunate manís head and breast. At the foot of the hill, the body of the wagon and hinder wheels became separated from the front portion, and was hurled with great force against the wall close beside the Catholic Chapel. The horse, carrying with it the shafts and the two remaining wheels, continuing its way to the Ship Tavern, was there arrested in its flight, happily without injuring any other person.

The carrier was speedily conveyed to his home, and was soon attended by Drs. Halliwell and Fearnley. On examining him it was found that his chest had been crushed by the wheels, several of the ribs being crushed down upon the lungs and heart, rendering all hope of saving his life impossible. He continued sinking till eight in the evening, when death put an end to his sufferings.

A man named Ellis, who aided to convey the deceased home after the accident, and who had witnessed the whole affair, says that if the slipper and front chain had been attached the accident could hardly have taken place. In this opinion we are unable to concur. It is possible that the after flight of the horse might have been to some extent retarded had the chain been on, but we are very doubtful if it would have contributed in the slightest degree to prevent the rapid descent of the wagon down the hill. On the contrary, the iron on the wheel would in all probability have carried the vehicle over the snow with the ease with which a skate goes over ice. We heard it said also that great blame is attached to the Assistant-Surveyor for not causing the road to be covered with ashes. But much as we deplore the sad results we have recorded, we cannot see that any censure can with reason be applied to the official in question. It is quite unusual to do anything of the kind in the middle of the road. In fact, we never heard of an instance where the authorities in any place caused the highway to be covered in the way suggested. It may, of course be a suggestion for the Board of Health to discuss how far that suggestion may be acted upon in the future; but in justice to Mr. Wood we do think it is too bad to visit him with reprobation for not doing that which had never been done previously.

We regret to state that the deceased, who was only 28 years of age, has left behind him a wife. We can not close this notice without stating that he was much respected in the neighbourhood, and by others who knew him, not a few of whom had seen him in Dawgreen immediately before starting in high spirits and all of innocent mirth.

Dewsbury Reporter 5 January 1861, page 5