Rugby Advertiser - Tuesday 16 December 1941
AIRCRAFTMAN KILLED. JURY CONSIDER VICTIM WAS TO BLAME.
"We have come to the conclusion that he had himself to blame," said the Coroner (Mr. E. F. Hadow) at the inquest at Rugby on Friday on Aircraftman Edward Ernest Richard Gornall, aged 19, who died in the Hospital of St. Cross early on Wednesday last week. The jury returned a verdict that Gornall died from severe shock and internal injuries sustained when the lorry in which he was a passenger came into collision with a private lorry, and that he was sitting on the side of the lorry, contrary to regulations.
Mr. W. Gough (Messrs. Blewitt and Co., Birmingham) represented the driver of the private lorry involved, Mr. Ralph Edward Jukes, 28, Princess Street, Hickney, and the owners, Messrs. H. Jacques and Co.
Corporal Charles John Lee, said that at 5.50 p.m. on December 9th he was travelling in a lorry along the Lutterworth Road, near Willey. He was in the front with the driver. They met a private lorry travelling in the direction of Nuneaton, and then there was a bang. He found Gornall lying in the back of the lorry. It was against the regulations for anyone to sit on the side of the vehicle, and he was particularly strict about giving instructions to that effect.
In answer to Mr. Gough, witness said no seats were provided in the back of the lorry, and the men could either stand or sit on the floor. The majority of them would be sitting on the floor.
William Frederick Norman said that he was driving the lorry, which had two sidelights and a rear light. Whilst in the act of passing the other lorry, which approached on its correct side of the road, he heard a thud, and both lorries pulled up. There was no collision between them. His own lorry had sustained no injury, but Gornall was unconscious. Both lorries were travelling at about 20 miles per hour, and Jukes' lorry had the same lights as his own. The road was about 20 feet wide.
"PRETTY CLOSE THING"
James Sweetin said he was standing in the rear of the lorry, supporting himself by a bar behind the cabin. Gornall was sitting beside him, but he did not notice whether he was sitting on the floor or on the side. Gornall was carrying his respirator helmet over his shoulder. They were singing, and witness was looking over the top of the cabin. He saw the other lorry approaching, being carefully driven at a normal speed, and made a mental note that it was going be "a pretty close thing."
Ralph Edward Jukes, the driver of the other lorry, said he saw the vehicle coming in the opposite direction, and kept as close as possible to his near side. In passing he heard a clatter at the side of his lorry and bits of glass flew into the cabin. He pulled up and found the driving mirror was bent back, and the glass broken. He asked Lee for an explanation and he said "There is a man injured. He was sitting on the side."
Dr. J. P. Adlam, resident medical officer of the Hospital of St. Cross, said Gornall was admitted to he hospital in a shocked condition and semi-conscious, and he died at 2.45 a.m. His injuries suggested that he had been thrown very heavily on his right side. There was a compound fracture of the right arm, and something might have caught this arm and thrown him down. Questioned by Mr. Gough, Dr. Adlam agreed that in his view Gornall could not have been sitting on the floor of the lorry.
Sympathy with the relatives of the dead man were expressed by the Coroner and Jury, of which Mr. G. H. Payne was foreman, and by Mr. Gough, on behalf of the driver and owners of the other lorry.