NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
SUNDAY 19 JANUARY 1930
DIED OF EXPOSURE.
Auckland Star, Volume LXI, Issue 19, 23 January 1930, Page 8
A formal verdict that the five persons who died on the Tasntan Glacier on Sunday died of exposure, as the result of being caught in a blizzard, was returned by the coroner's jury after hearing evidence at the Hermitage, Mount Cook, this afternoon.
The jury expressed its deepest sympathy with the relatives, and friends of the deceased, and also expressed its admiration of the efforts of the guides and relief party in their ordeal in recovering the bodies; also of the Public Works Department and its employees. The coroner briefly thanked Mr G MANNERING for his assistance in recovering the bodies and in transporting the police from Fairlie to the Hermitage.
Those who lost their lives were
|BLOMFIELD||John Edward Elridge||21||Guide, of the Hermitage Staff|
|BROWN||Doris Herbert||38||Rangiora, Canterbury|
Geoffrey Gould WOLLERY, assistant manager of the Hermitage, said that on January 18 the four young women left the Malte Brun hut in charge of Guide Blomfield. They were all in good health, and fit to make the trip. Charles HILGENDORF, employed as a guide at the Hermitage for the past two seasons, said that on Sunday Guide Blomfield and his party left the Malte Brun hut, at 10.30 a.m., to return to the Hermitage. Witness told Blomfield that he would follow after he had tidied the hut.
It was raining slightly when Blomfield's party left. At that time witness did not think it would be a rough day. When the girls left they all appeared to be well and happy. They were clothed much as were all women who visited the hut. Witness tided the hut and followed them, about an hour and a half afterwards. It was raining very heavily, with lightning and thunder, and as he continued his journey the weather became worse, and a gale sprang up.
When witness reached the glacier the condition of the ice was very bad, and he had had to put on crampons. Even with crampons the going was very difficult. The blizzard was the worst that he had known. Just as he reached De la Beche Corner, about 2.30 p.m., he saw a woman lying on the ice, and he discovered that she was dead. She was lying face downwards in a hollow in the ice, having apparently been sheltering from the wind.
He saw no disfigurement of any sort. About 30yds further on he found woman. Her face was cut on the cheek; but he did not take particular notice of it. About 10yds further on there were two more women, one of them with her face under water. The other was lying on top or beside her. They were both dead. He pulled them out of the water on to the hard ice and, went on to the Ball Hut.
Very soon after he left the bodies the weather improved and he made good time. The bodies were about six miles from the Ball Hut. Witness reached the Ball Hut,about 3.30 p.m., a little, more than three hours and a half after he had left Malte Brun. At the time he discovered the bodies of the women he did not see that of Guide Blomfield, probably because he was crawling on the ice when the blizzard was raging.
Witness said he crawled on his hands and knees to the corner. The wind was so severe that he was unable to stand up. "I could do nothing else but crawl," he added. He said the storm from the north-west came down the Rudolph Glacier, striking the Tasman Glacier at De la Beche Corner.
The bodies were at the worst part of the glacier for weather, being exposed to the wind coming down the Rudolph Glacier. "I have found Guide Blomfield a man of sound judgment and always careful for the safety of his parties," witness said. There was no reason why Blomfield should not have left the Malte Brun hut on Sunday morning. I have left the Malte Brun hut under conditions similar to those existing when Guide Blomfield left."
Guide Michael Robert BOWIE, one of the search party, said the position of the bodies as they found them was slightly different from that described by HILGENDORF. Probably the wind had moved them. Three of the women were together, two being frozen under water. He thought their deaths were caused by the severe gale.
Blomfield was about 150 yards away from the women. He was stretched out on the ice. He had probably been crawling towards Malte Brun. He was in his shirt sleeves and had thrown away his rucksack. He had lost his hat and his ice axe was some yards away from him in the ice. The search party tried to revive him. He was wrapped in blankets and rubbed. The others looked hopeless. They were stiff and two of them were in water. Blomfield's hands were badly torn by the ice, and all the skin was off the back of his hands. The bodies were wrapped in blankets.
Hilgendorf, recalled, said that he did not think that anyonee could live under the same conditions wearing the same equipment and in the same party. "I do not know that I can say that if I had been with the party my end would have been the same," he added. "I was equipped very differently. In my opinion the blizzard was at its worst a quarter of an hour before I came to the bodies.
Dr Charles Stanley FRASER, of Timaru, said he had examined the bodies of the five victims. The clothes on all were wet, but did not display any great amount of damage. His opinion of the cause of death was that they died of cold and exposure after being caught in a blizzard. There was no evidence of anything else. He was forced to the conclusion that the clothing had been inadequate in such a blizzard, but he understood that Blomfield's shirt had been removed when resuscitation was attempted.
Dr Fraser said Miss Brown was wearing light drill trousers with silk and wool combinations. She was well protected round the chest with three light woollen vests and a blouse. Miss Monteath had inadequate protection round the chest from cold. Miss Smith had riding trousers and a jersey with inadequate underclothing. Miss Keane was clothed in a suede lumber jacket and khaki riding trousers. She had inadequate under clothing. Blomfield's chest was bare of clothing and he was wearing a pair of light grey slacks and Aertex underpants. Witness could find no evidence of injury to the bones or joints of any of the deceased and he believed that they had died of cold and exposure.
Return To HOME
FAMILIES I AM RESEARCHING | MISCELLANEOUS GENEALOGICAL STUFF | NEW ZEALAND — ON LINE GENEALOGICAL AND FAMILY HISTORY RESOURCES | NEW ZEALAND — YOUNG BOY IMMIGRANT SCHEME 1911 — 1914 | NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES | NEW ZEALAND MISCELLANEOUS GENEALOGICAL INDEXES | NEW ZEALAND LAND WARS — MISCELLANEOUS GENEALOGICAL INDEXES | NEW ZEALAND AND WORLD WAR ONE | NEW ZEALAND AND WORLD WAR TWO | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR AND WAR MEMORIALS — BY LOCATION | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR AND WAR MEMORIALS — BY CONFLICT | NEW ZEALAND ROLLS OF HONOUR — MILITARY NURSES | PAKEHA/MAORI TRANSLITERATIONS | PASSENGER LISTS TO NEW ZEALAND | SHAND — FAMILY HISTORY | SOUTH TARANAKI, NEW ZEALAND — GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES | SPONDON, DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND — GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES | WANGANUI COLLEGIATE SCHOOL 1865 — 1947 | WESTERN BAY OF PLENTY, NEW ZEALAND — GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES