Fatal Accident to William Pepper, 1920

By Kathryn Betts

The following report appeared in the Royston Crow on 19th March 1920:

Fatal Accident to a Meldreth Smallholder

An inquest was held at Addenbrooke's Hospital on Friday evening by the Cambridge Coroner (Mr G A Wootten) into the circumstances relating to the death of William Pepper, aged 64, a smallholder, of Whaddon Road, Meldreth, which occurred in the Hospital on the previous Wednesday.

Evidence of identification was given by Frederick Wm. Pepper, labourer, Rose Lane, Melbourn, who said the deceased was his father, who he said was in good health at the time of the accident.  On Tuesday, February 24th, deceased left his home to go and help another son do some drilling.  Witness saw him after the accident, when he was unconscious.  He was attended at home by a doctor for some days before he came to the hospital. 

Replying to the Coroner, witness said his father had been used to horses all his life.  The horse he was driving when the accident happened was an old one, and would shy at times.  He bought the horse cheap on that account, at Royston, witness believed.

Reginald Chapman (13), of Whaddon who drives a milk cart for Mr Williams, stated that on Feb. 24th at 8.45am he saw the deceased with a cart.  He noticed Mr Pepper get into the cart and appeared to be untying the reins, and as he was doing this the horse shied and went off at full gallop.  Deceased, who had not then got hold of the reins or sat down, was thrown backwards out of the cart onto the road.  Witness said he had seen deceased's horse run away with him before.

Grace Thurley, Donkey Road, Meldreth, said the last witness told her of the accident and she and another lady went to the scene.  They saw the deceased get up.  They assisted him to his own home.  He had a bad cut on the crown of his head, and had lost a large quantity of blood.  Deceased appeared to be worried becase he could not remember what had happened.

Dr Frederick James Bennett, house surgeon at Addenbrooke's, said deceased was admitted to the hospital on March 1st.  He had been five days under the charge of his local doctor, who had done everything possible for him, and he was then brought to the hospital, as he was not making satisfactory progress.  Witness thought at the time he was suffering from inflammation of the brain, but could not say definitely.  There was evidence of a wound in his head, a general bruising all over his body, and fracture of the collarbone.  As far as one could make out, he was in general good health.  He was treated by the pressure on the brain being relaxed, and appeared to be getting on well right up to the time of his death.  He was quite conscious, and able to converse, but was hazy about the accident.  On Wednesday evening, March 10th, he went into a state of coma, and died in a few minutes.  Witness made a post mortem examination and found that as a result of the injury to the head he had a fractured base of the skull and hemorrhage in the membranes covering the brain.  The cause of death was hemmorhage.  When he first went into the hospital witness did not think there was much chance for him, but he did so well under treatment that he later thought there was some hope.

The Coroner said deceased evidently bought a horse which was not quite to be relied on, and he must have run great risk in driving it.  It seemed that on the occasion of the accident the horse repeated what it was accustomed to do, and ran away, and deceased fell back out of the trap and on to his head.  He returned a verdict of accidental death.

This page was added by Kathryn Betts on 09/03/2011.

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