DROWNED ON THE DUDDON SANDS.
FOOLHARDY ESCAPADE OF A MILLOM MAN.
THE STATIONMASTER SEES THE MAN GO UNDER WATER, BUT CAN GET NO ASSISTANCE IN TIME.
On Tuesday evening an inquest was held before MR. POOLE (coroner) respecting the death of ALBERT WALKER of Millom. MR. COULTON was foreman of the jury.
WILLIAM HILL, Newton-street, Millom, said he knew ARTHUR WALKER, of 127, Newton-street, who was a mason's labourer, aged 21 years. On Saturday last he and the deceased left Millom by the 3.18 train. When they got to Kirkby they went to the Railway Inn, and had beer, but he could not say how much the deceased had. Witness had a couple of pints, but the deceased had more. They afterwards had some more drink, witness having a small rum.
THE CORONER: Had you any drink before you came from Millom?
I had none.
Was witness under the influence of drink?
You spent all the time at public-houses in Kirkby, and evidently came here to get drunk?
Where did you last see WALKER ?
At the station.
At what time?
Just before the six o'clock train.
Well, did you miss the man or what?
Did you catch the train.
The quarter past six.
Where did you leave WALKER?
At the station.
Because he would not come.
Why would he not go?
Because he said he was going to go across the sands.
Were you drunk at all?
Well, he was drunk?
Why did you leave him?
Because he would not come.
You knew what condition he was in, and you ought to know that he was not fit to cross the sands?
I tried to keep him back, but it was no use. He shoved me back.
All the greater reason you should have followed him. Whereabouts was he going ?
Going across the marsh from the station.
EDWARD PARK FOX, stationmaster at Kirkby, stated that the deceased first came under his notice about five o'clock, when he came onto the down platform. He was helplessly drunk, and the up platform was crowded with passengers for the 5.18 train. Witness got him into the waiting room, and tried to keep him there till the train went. He would not wait, and two of his companions took hold of his arm and brought him across the level crossing, and in going down the platform he was staggering, and nearly knocked a lady down.
Witness lost sight of him for about fifteen minutes, and when he came back he was staggering in front of the station. Witness went and took hold of him by the shoulder, and asked him to lie down and have a sleep.
He made some remark about being able to get over the sands, and witness said he could not as he was not in a fit state. At that time witness was called away and five or ten minutes after he came to look for the deceased, he made inquiries and was told that he had gone on the marsh. He had then got on the sands, and had made his way across the Pool. He was on the green and was staggering along, making in the direction of Millom Station.
He then went to his companion named HILL, and drew his attention to his mate going across the sands, and pointed out the dangerous position he was in. The reply he got was one of indifference - he did not care, or something of that sort.
There was a large crowd on the platform waiting for the 6.16 train, and when he mentioned the matter, some ridiculed the idea of being drowned, and said if he got in the water he would soon be wakened up.
He watched the deceased at intervals through a field glass. He saw him walking and splashing through the water, which he did not think ever got above his knees. He staggered along, and after awhile he could not see him, and he felt sure he had gone under water.
Witness shouted this out, and three young fellows named COULTON, STONES, and EDGAR, went towards him, but when they came back they said when they got to the place where he was last seen, they could see nothing of him.
Just previous to this, witness sent for the police. On account of the crowd that was on the platform, he could not get any of his men to assist until after 6.16, and by that time the man was drowned.
THE CORONER: Do you know if there was any deep place in the direction in which he was going?
I don't know anything about the depths of the sands across there, but I suppose it is full of holes, and the tide was in.
He could not get across then?
No, if he had even been sober he could not.
Not in a state to hardly know what he was doing?
I don't think he knew what he was doing. He seemed to be stupid.
Was there anyone you could have got to **** at the time?
There was no one. There was extraordinary traffic. Something like 400 people on both crossings. The platform was crowded with people, mostly from Millom.
Mostly in the same condition as the deceased was in?
Some were under the influence of drink, but I cannont complain about them generally.
GEO. FELL said he found the deceased about five o'clock on Sunday morning on the Duddon Sands.
THE CORONER: Do you know if there was a hole near the place where deceased was found?
There was a break about a yard high, about the place where the men said he had gone in.
I understand the tide was up?
Yes, it would be up.
THE CORONER in summing up, said: This gentleman is the second inquest I have held within the last ten days on Millom men who have gone out of their own district to get drunk. It seems that the deceased and the first witness came over to Kirkby, and they had been practically all the time in public-houses. They no doubt had a great deal of drink, but the other man that was with the deceased was probably not quite so bad as he was, otherwise he would hardly remember what he was doing.
Had he been sober, I would have something very different to say about him leaving his companion in the condition that he was in. Of course, the deceased had no knowledge of the dangers, or he would not have attempted to walk over the sands at any rate when there was a full tide.
They could only find the verdict "That the deceased was drowned whilst drunk in attempting to cross the sands."
It was exceedingly sad to see the way people made beasts of themselves, and got drunk the way deceased and his companion did.
The jury found the verdict that "The deceased was drowned in crossing the Duddon Sands whilst under the influence of drink."