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NEWS: Coroner's Verdict - Edmonton

Mining Accident Death of Alexander Robert Craig - Vermilion homesteader
The Edmonton Bulletin
January 5, 1907

Contributed for use in Alberta Digital Archives by Darlene Homme.

Actual scanned images of some early Alberta newspapers are online at
The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project



Edmonton, Jan. 7 - We, the undersigned, a jury summoned by Coroner Dr. Braithwaite to enquire as to the time, place and cause of the death of Alexander Craig, find as follows:

That the death took place at the Parkdale coal mines about 2 o'clock on Saturday, January 5th, 1907, and that the death was due to an accident. In examination of the evidence and the premises we find that there were no gates or other protection at the pit head, where Alexander Craig was operating, and would recommedn that in every case of a similar nature proper and adequate automatic gates be provided for the protection of employees.

The coroner's jury, summoned by Dr. Braithwaite, to investigate the cause of death of Alexander Robert Craig, who fell down the shaft at the Osborne-Horn Mine Saturday, brought in a verdict this morning attributing death to accident, but at the same time finding that there were no gates at the mine mouth.

Craig is now known to be a homesteader at Vermilion and an Irishman by birth.

No one saw the accident, and only surmise is possible.

The jury assembled by Dr. Braithwaite were K.W. Mackenzie, forman, and R.R. Fields, John Lundy, T.W. Mason, P.E. Lessard and W.W. Henry.

The jury assembled at the city hall at 9 o'clock this morning and were driven to the mine which is just outside the eastern boundary of the city alongside the C.N.R. track, where they convened for the inquest in the superintendent's office.

The first witness called was the mine superintendent, George Cunningham. He was off duty at the time but was summoned to the mine a few minutes after accident. Craig was working alone at time of mishap. Men working below were first to discover the fatality and as quickly as possible got the body to the surfave, carried it to the engine room and summoned doctor from Edmonton. In the opinion of the superintendent the accident was due to absent mindedness while handling the car - apparently deceased forgot which shaft the car was from and pushed into the wrong shaft. Cunningham considered the mine was equipped up to the standards of the mining act. To the foreman of the jury he explained it was impossible to fully equip a mine - this could only be done as development work proceeded.

Allan Kerr, the pit boss, was next called. At the time of the accident, which was about 12:40 a.m., Saturday, he was at the bottom awaiting to come to the surface. Along with him were two bottomers named Gibson and Webster. First they knew anything had gone wrong was the noise raised in shaft by the falling car and Craig. As soon as they realized they were in no danger they proceeded to see what the racket was about and found the wrecked car with the unfortunate man on it - a leg on one side, face downward. They immediately summoned other miners and brought the body to the surface. Deceased lived about 2 1/2 hours after accident and was conscious almost till the time he expired. The injured man said nothing as to how it happened, the only request he made was to have his boots removed. To the foreman of the jury Kerr stated he had been for some years employed in several mines and he considered the Parkdale sufficiently equipped, and the owners were putting it in shape as fast as possible. Ten minutes after the body was discovered they had it to the surface and the doctor was immediately telephoned for.

Dr. Ferris, who was called to attend the dead man, testified that he arrived at the mine about 2:30 and the unfortunate man had just expired, the body then being in the company's office. The injuries consisted of scar over the left eyebrow, some of the left ribs crushed, left leg broken in two or three places and right foot smashed. In his opinion, death might be due to shock, though he only made a superficial examination. The foreman wated to know if the injury to the forehead would cause death, but the M.D. said he had not sufficiently examined the wound to make a definite statement.

The coroner and jurymen then proceeded to the scene of the mishap and carefully looked over the situation and questioned the mine officials.

On resuming the enquiry, F. Smith, the Provincial consulting mining engineer was called. He had visited the mine on Saturday and gone over the ground carefully. The platform at the top, where the cars are dumped for screening, is about 14 feet square with the dumps nearly opposite the west shaft. He learned Craig was working at the pit head, that he had taken car from east shaft, dumped it and, forgetting which cage was on top, pushed car into shaft at west side. Craig must have fallen direct down shaft with the car. Shaft is 6 by 5 feet, and car could not possibly turn in it. The mine is under development and he thought management are fitting it as a modern colliery as far as construction work can be done. To the foreman he stated in developed mines protection gates are placed that work automatically. Temporary gates have been put on since the accident, that are all the law requires, but the law is not explicit regarding gates while the mine is being developed. The mine had been operating six months but the present dumping arrangement had only been in operation five weeks. The mine had been inspected six weeks ago. The law completed an inspection once in two months.

The jurymen had a number of questions for the mining inspector, principally as to whether the mine was equipped properly. Mr. Smith's previous visit only one shaft was operating and dump was only fifteen feet above ground; at present it is thirty feet up. He ventured the information that had he been around since the change was made he would have called the owners attention to the fact that more protection should be provided.

Gibson and Watson, the bottomers who were working with Kerr, were also called, but their evidence shed no new light on the affair, merely corroborating Kerr's story.

This was all the testimony available, and after deliberating for nearly an hour, the verdict recorded above was rendered. Alexander Robert Craig, the victim of Saturday's accident, was a native of Ireland, coming here direct from Antrim about two years ago. He had a homestead at Vermilion and had only been employed at the mine about six weeks. His mother lives at Larne, Ireland, and the sad intelligence was cabled here on Saturday. An uncle of the deceased's resided near Vermilion and took charge of the body today. Interment to take place at Belmont. Craig was 28 years of age and unmarried.

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