NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
OPAPA RAILWAY ACCIDENT
OPAPA, HAWKES BAY, NORTH ISLAND
TUESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 1925
Taken from New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19130, 23 September 1925, Page 10 and others
On Tuesday 22 September 1925, a disastrous accident happened to the Palmerston North-Napier mail train at 4.10 pm. At a point about a mile on the Palmerston North side of Opapa, 27 miles from Napier, the engine and four carriages left the line and crashed into the sides of a cutting at the top of a hill. The four carriages were partially wrecked and were afterwards completely destroyed by fire. The engine received slight damage.
The three deaths were: -
Miss Katherine Elizabeth BEGLEY, 28 years of Frederick Street, Hastings
Murdoch CAMPBELL, 43 years of Hastings
Edward Vivian IGGULDEN, 45 years of Wairoa
Those injured were: -
Mr CRAIG [CRAIK] - travelling, from Auckland to Wairoa, address unknown. Severe injuries to head, teeth knocked out, injury to eye. Condition serious.
Mrs CRAIG [CRAIK] - wife of above. Scalp wound, which was dressed out of hospital.
Alfred HOOK - of Havelock North. Cuts on face, not serious. Mrs BEGLEY - mother of Miss Begley, who was killed. Severe shock, broken collarbone. Condition not serious.
Harold MCKENZIE - son of William McKenzie, of Havelock North, broken thigh, wound in leg. Condition serious.
Mr JACKSON, Pacific Hotel, Hastings. Both wrists injured. Received attention and went to his home.
Samuel MARSHALL of Onehunga, bad burns and in serious condition.
Mrs T KENIGAN [KERRIGAN], Railway Hotel, Palmerston North, fractured ribs, shock and cuts.
A M PATERSON, 9 Wellesley Street, Gisborne, injured leg
Alfred George MOORE, 31 Maori Hill, Dunedin, scalp wound
Richard KNIGHT, care H. E. Crosse, Patoka — a native. Head injuries.
David JONES, Castlecliff, Wanganui — cut hands and head.
Mrs Sarah CROSS [Mrs C CROSS], Constable Street, Wellington — injured ankle
Mrs Susan RUTTER [Mrs F RUTTER], 25 Lower Tory Street, Wellington — bruised leg and shock
W WALKER, of Wellington — injured nose
S ALMAO, 42 Taonui Street, Palmerston North [or Wellesley Road, Napier]
S M BIRCH, 42 Taonui Street, Palmerston North
F LAVIN, Hastings Street, Napier (driver of the engine) sustained scalds
Terrence CORLISS, Napier South
T DONOVAN, Napier (the fireman) slightly injured
Relief Train Sent to Scene. The news first came through to the stationmaster at Hastings, Mr. Sharkey, and soon created the utmost consternation, both in Napier and in Hastings. With the utmost possible speed Mr Sharkey and his staff and the railway staff at Napier set to work to organise a relief train, which was despatched promptly and which arrived at the scene of the accident in rapid time. A staff of nurses, doctors and other willing helpers accompanied the train with stretchers and medical appliances. The passengers on the wrecked train who were not hurt had done all they could to help the unfortunate injured, and by the time the relief train arrived all the injured had been removed from the wreckage and had been dressed with improvised bandages and rendered first-aid.
As one approached Poukawa the sight of a great cloud of smoke rising from the hills beyond left no doubt in the minds of those hurrying to the spot that something serious had happened, and removed any hope that the news so scanty but so quickly acted upon had been in any degree false. At the top of the rise beyond the little Maori settlement of Opapa lay the crippled engine and the broken carriages, two of them already fiercely burning.
Reminiscent of Battlefield. Scattered about the fields which basked in summer sunshine and beautiful in their freshness and greenness lay the injured people, little knots of helpers hastening here and there to their aid and doing a hundred kindnesses to allay their suffering. The hillside was graphically reminiscent of a battlefield and the injured with their bandaged limbs, some of them being borne on the crudest of stretchers to a collecting point, gave a sad appearance to that otherwise purely pastoral scene. In the meanwhile the carriages burned fiercely, sending up great clouds of smoke.
Previous Accident at Spot. The remarkable fact that just at that very point two years ago a sheep train had a similarly disastrous experience came at once to the mind. The place is in every way dangerous-looking to the ordinary traveller, with its curving line. There is a short, but deep cutting at the point, where the accident happened, and the approach to it as the train comes from Palmerston North is a curve with little sweep to allow of a graceful entry at anything like a high speed. The cutting then leads round another curve in the opposite direction, so that the section of the line at present being considered forms the letter S, the whole of it being on a hill of a particularly steep gradient.
Northern Advocate , 7 November 1925, Page 5 - MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE. THE OPAPA TRAIN FATALITY. NAPIER, This Day. At Napier this morning Frederick Lavin, driver of the Napier-Wellington train which was derailed at Opapa on September 22, resulting in the death of Murdoch Campbell, Edward Vivian Iggulden and Kathleen Begley, all of whom were injured in the accident, was charged with manslaughter in respect of each victim. On the application of the police a remand was granted until November 11, when a further remand until November 19 will be asked for. Bail was granted in self for £500 and two sureties of £25 each. —Press Assn.
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