The Late Mr. Reg. Baker

Coronial Inquiry Accidental Finding Returned

5 July 1949 The Tumut and Adelong Times 

An inquiry into the death of the late Mr. Reginald Thomas Baker was conducted at the Tumut Court House on Friday last by the Tumut Coroner, Mr. R. L. Blakeney, who, at the conclusion of evidence, found that the late Mr. Baker died from the effects of a fractured skull accidentally received when a motor utility truck he was driving overturned on him on 21 st June last on the Tumut Adelong Road. 

Const. J. Derrick stated that about 6 p.m. on June 21 he went with Dr. Mason to the scene of a motor accident on the Tumut-Adelong Road about six miles from Tumut.

There he saw a Buick utility overturned and badly damaged. The near side wooden front wheel had collapsed.

The vehicle was facing south on a road running east and west.

The rear of the utility was level with the centre of the road. About 5 feet from the driver's side of the vehicle he saw the body of deceased, Reginald Thomas Baker lying on its back. He heard Dr. Mason pronounce life extinct. The body was fully clothed and there appeared to be no external lacerations.

Continuing, Const. Derrick stated: On June 22 in company with Sergt. Hickson and the District Coroner the locality was again visited.

I observed that the deceased had descended a moderate decline in the vehicle in which he was driving in the direction of Tumut for a distance of about 190 yards where a culvert was crossed. From then on the road was normally level but tyre marks of deceased's vehicle indicated that from the culvert on the vehicle was veering to the left and gradually did so for a distance of 55 yards when it left the formed road and struck a gutter two feet deep.

The vehicle catapulted then for a distance of 18 feet before striking the ground. It continued on parallel to the road for another 44 yards before dropping over a 15 inch bank, regaining the road and overturning. 

Here there was evidence that the speed of the vehicle was excessive as tyre marks had churned up the ground.

The vehicle had travelled 105 yards from the time it started to veer off the road at the culvert until it regained the road and overturned. Out of that 105 yards, 50 yards had been travelled completely off the road.

The road where the accident occurred is of earth formation, quite trafficable and 25 feet in width. I observed no signs of liquor on deceased nor in the vehicle. 

When I inspected the vehicle the near side front wheel which was of wood had completely collapsed.

The spokes of the wheel were lying about the road. The rear wheel on the same side was badly buckled and the tyre, tube and rim had been forced off the wheel. The vehicle was almost completely wrecked.

It was a cloudy afternoon and misty rain was falling. The road was wet but I do not think dangerous. 

Dr. J. W. Mason (Government Medical Officer) deposed: On June 21 I received a telephone message from Mr. T. Burbury to the effect niat there had been a bad motor accident just outside his house on the Adelong Road about 6 miles from Tumut.

I informed Sergt. Hickson and later proceeded to the scene of the accident with Constable Derrick. There I saw the body of a man known to me us Reginald Baker lying on the side of the road beside an overturned old utility truck. Life was extinct.

On the morning of June 22 I examined the body at the Tumut Hospital. There was an abrasion down the left side of the face and the left ear was full of clotted blood. No limbs appeared to be broken, nor any other bones on the body.

In my opinion death was due to a fractured base of the skull and severe injuries to the brain. I did not notice any signs of alcohol on deceased.

I am well acquainted with deceased and have always found him very sober.

The injuries were consistent with that of the truck falling on him, the head being crushed.

 Edward George Webb, grazier, of Mundongo, Tumut, deposed: At about 5,45 p.m. on June 21 I was returning from Wagga, driving my own car and was accompanied by my wife, brother and his wife. About a mile on the Adelong side of the residence of Mr. T. Burbury an old Buick utility passed me, travelling in the same direction. I estimate that I was travelling at about 25 miles an hour and when the utility passed me I am of the opinion that it was travelling between 45 and 50 miles an hour. I did not know the driver of the utility when it passed me.

When I arrived near Mr. Burbury's residence I saw the same vehicle lying upside down on the road. I pulled up and Mr. Ward came to me and said 'My mate is under the truck. Help me to get it off him.'

When I got to the overturned vehicle I saw a leg of a man sticking out from under the truck. We were unable to lift the truck and I immediately went to Mr. Burbury's for assistance.

When this came the truck was lifted and the deceased taken out.

When the truck was lifted I was of the opinion that Baker was dead. The body was placed on the side of the road, where it remained until the police, doctor and ambulance arrived. The road on the Adelong side of the accident was very rutty. After the utility passed me it kept on a straight course.

There was nothing unusual about it. I contend that the speed I was travelling at was too slow to get the best results from my car on the rutty road. Whilst speaking with Ward and assisting in lifting the vehicle I did not detect any sign of liquor whatsoever. I did not examine the vehicle closely, but did notice that both wheels on the near-side were broken.

I have known deceased for about five or six years and during that period found him to be a very sober and industrious man. 

John Henry Ward, plasterer, deposed: At about 5.55 p.m. on 21st June I was a passenger in a Buick utility, which was owned and driven by deceased. At the time we were returning from work at Adelong in the direction of Tumut.

When about 7 miles from Tumut we passed a Chev. sedan car, which I now know was being driven by Mr. E. Webb, of Mundongo.

The utility was travelling faster than the car. I said to deceased 'She is moting, mate,' by which I meant she was travelling fast. The deceased then said 'It's the only way we can got over these ruts.'

The vehicle continued till it passed over a culvert on the other side of Burbury's house and at this point there is a slight turn to the right. The vehicle, instead of taking the curve to the right, veered to the left and gradually went off the road.

It bounced over some ruts and I was thrown out. After getting up I walked down the road a short distance and found the vehicle turned upside down on the road and the engine still running.

I called out 'Where are you, mate ?' but got no reply and I noticed deceased's leg protruding from under the vehicle. I went for assistance to the house nearby and when assistance arrived I helped to lift the utility off de ceased, I was taken to the house and given first-aid treatment to my own injuries.

Shortly after Dr. Ma-son, police and ambulance arrived and the body conveyed to Tumut. Prior to the accident the headlights of the vehicle were on. The deceased had been in my company practically all tho afternoon and at the time of the accident he was perfectly sober.

I am not a licensed driver and I cannot form an idea as to what speed the utility was travelling. I have known deceased for about 25 years and would say he was sober, steady and reliable.

On the evening in question the vehicle was not travelling any faster than other times when we were returning from work at Adelong.

 On this occasion the deceased was returning from his work at Adelong as a monumental mason. The deceased was the owner of the business.

At the time of the accident there was a misty rain falling.