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THE ADJOURNED INQUEST; EVIDENCE OF RESCUED MEN. ALLEGED INCOMPETENCE OF THE BOATMEN. A VERDICT OF MAN- SLAUGHTER. At -.tbe.:Aberavon Police-station on Tuesday, Mr Howel Cuthbertson, county coroner, resumed his inquiry into the cause of the disaster at Aberavon, on Bank Holiday, which caused the deaths of 23 excursionists. Mr Bruce, of the firm of Messrs Walter Morgan, Rees, and Bruce, Pontypridd, watched the case for the relatives. John Isaac Evans, borough surveyor, said he had..made a tracing from the Ordnance Map of the beach and breakwater. The boat capsized 109 yards from the breakwater seawards. The boat jCapsized 580 yards from where it was loaded. WIN, James Cowdray, 20, Gelly Crossing, Ystrad Rhondda, haulier, said he went out in the boat, and he had been out in it in the morning. He and the two girls were the first three in the boat. Wm. Bath invited them to take a ride on the water. He now knew there We r J 3S in the boat; including the boatmen. Some gentleman on the beach asked Bath how many did he say the boat would carry, and Bath replied 30." Before they pushed off Bath said, Some of you smaller lads can stand up," and they did so. Witness thought the boat was overloaded. The two Baths were at the oars and another man (iu court) was steering. When they started they intended to go to tho pierhead and back. Bath said, I will ask you a question—little and big. If you will make the money up to 10s, I will row you a far way out." Witness said, No," but he could not say what the others did. The charge for being rowed to the pierhead was 3d each. There was no attempt made by the boatman to stop anyone from getting into the boat. The people were standing up along the sides of the boat and also in the middle of it. He could not say how it was that the boat cap- sized. When they went out in the morning with 24-, they went a long way out and paid sixpence each. He bad never been in a boat before thai day. The money was to be jiaid after the trip was over. They went over several waves. He did not see any rush to the side of the bout or hear anyone shout to Bath cautioning him 1.3 to the number in the boat. By the Jury The water was within two inclico of the top of the side of the He was afraid of the longer trip which was proposed, as the giris screamed when the boat went over the high waves. Witness, too, got frightened, and said, "For the Lord 111 Heaven's sake, pull back." By Mr Bruce: The boat was packed with people, and there was no room to move. By the Jury: Some water came into the boat. The two s were standing up rowing. Bath did not stop when witness asked him to go back, but said, "We are now having the best of it." Bath did not stop for five or ten minutes. He did not seo the boatman preventing a boy from coming into the boat. He had been told that D. L. Evans offered 3 if the boatman would go further out. Hector Wm. Evans, Cornwell-tcrrace, Llwyn- ypia, at present mason's labourer, and formerly in the royal'navy.saidhe thought it was about3.30 when he went into the boat. When they pushed off he thought there were 24 in the boat, but he had heard since that there were more. Witness pulled the starboard oar going out, but gave it up to William Bath before they got to the end of the breakwater. The sea was beginning to get choppy off the breakwater. Bath said when they were about 150 yards from the breakwater that he would go back. As the boat turned witness observed a heavy swell, and as the boat heeled with the swell the passengers did the same, instead of leaning to the weather side. If they had loaned to the weather side he believed the stern of the boat would have been to the swell. Very little water came into tbe boat. The boat was overloaded. Eighteen would have been the most she ought to have carried. He did not think the boatmen were capable of managing a boat a long distance. The cause of the capsizing of the boat was the sudden turning in the swell and the passengers heeling. The last witness said to Bath, "We went out further this morning for sixpence. Let us do so again. Bath replied, Some paid their sixpences and some didn't, but if you will make it up to 10s I will stop out for an hour under the lee of the breakwater. The fireman at the Gelly, Works, David Evans, said he would put 3s, and another said he would give a shilling. Bath continued to row on. Witness was not in the boat in the morning. He did not know how many were standing up, but be 5&W seven. The breakers were breaking dead on the shore. Bath refused to allow a boy on the boat after the others "had got JU. There was no room for him to get in. The boat was leaking when they got in, but not much. From six to nine inches were above the water. Before they started Bath told him tbe fee was 3d to the lee of the breakwater. By Mr Bruce: The boat should have been turned under the lee of the breakwater. He could not say why the boatman went beyond the break- water. The boat turned ahout in about a length and a half. When the swell struck her she went over at a very sharp angle. Witness leaned to the weather side of the boaK By the Jury Ho did not know there wore so many in the boat, aud also he thought they were not going beyond the breakwater. He srtw the danger in the breakwater, and spoke to the boat- man quietly so as not to cause a panic. There was too little freeboard. The boatman did not assist witness in rescuing some of those in the water. Dr. Arnallt Jonfs said he saw the body of Gwenllian Llewellyn and examined it. Death was due to drowning. In the of three bodies, was due to shock or fright, not to suffoca- tion. The court adjourned at one o'clock for luncheon, the Coroner suggesting that the jurymen should inspect the boat in the interval. Catherine Hopkins, 14 years of age, of Ystrad, another of the rescued, said she did not see the wave coming, and as there was nothing expected there was no rush. Hector Evans saved her life. Shelhad never betn out 111 a boat before. There was no room to move, and as the boat went out it moved back and fore. The force of the wave capsized the boat. Hector Evans, re-called, said he was not aware that 10 or 13 people jumped in the boat as it was being pushed off. Captain Thomas Ace said he was captain of the tug. He did not know the owner of the boat which capsized. He had been captain of the tug nearly 40 years. He saw a boat going out over the bar between 12 and 1 o'clock. It was then within an hour of high water. The water was rather rough for boating, but there was a smooth bar. He saw the boat was overloaded and much beyond what she ought to have been. Witness called out to the man in charge of the boat, and said, "What are you doing out here, you stupid fellow, with that load of people in the boat?" Witness shouted to him to take the boat back into smooth water, and to take care or he would drown his passengers and himself. Witness directed the boatman to pull into the lee of the breakwater. The boat was then 150 fathoms north-west of the pomt of the breakwater. The tugboat was about 100 fathoms away from the boat when he called ou tQ the boatman. The boat was 20 feet long. Between two and three o'clock tho billows would begin to break where the boat capsized. There was a little wind billow on. It was very unwise to turn the boat in a swell. Anyone who under- stood boating would not hav", taken out such cargo, and would have shown sqrne judgment in turning. Such a boat with 35 persons in it would be in an extremely dangerous condition. He only knew boats to be licensed un the Thames, By Mr Bruce Sixteen would have been quite enough for such a boat, and even then no man who does not understand the management of a boat should venture over such a bar. By the jury It was never safe to take any open boat over the bar unless thoroughly prac- tical men were in charsre of her. The ground sea was so uncertain. It would have been better to have gone half a mile further out to have turned. The boat was not large enough to carry such a number. Jenkin Bevan, Custom House officer, said he had seen the boat. It was 20 feet long, 5 feet 6 inches broad, and 2 feet 5 inches deep. It was a strong boat, and was capa.ble of carrying.15 to 16 ordinary people in smooth water. It was a most ridiculous thing tu take thirty-five people out in it. Theie were no regulations as to boats made by the Port Talbot Port authorities. John Snoik, a pilot;, said he had known the Port Talbot bar over 50 years. His boat took out trips of passengers on Bank Holiday, and it assisted in the work of rescue of those who had been thrown into the water. A load of 16 would have besn sufficient for such a boat. Bath had done it in ignorance. He said he did not know how long they were gomg to the rescue. The young girl appeared dead when picked up. No man in his senses wbuld attempt to go out with such a load. Police-inspector Cole said he had that morning taken Wm. Bath to se« the boat. H* said it ws his boat, and he bought it about two months ago from Mr Piper. Bath told witness he had had no experience in boating. Wm. Bath, John Bath, and John Cramp were asked If they desired to make any statement. The two former s:ud were not acquainted with boating, and added that John Cramp was connected with the trip as much as they were. John Cramp, tin-worker, who demurred to giv- ing hill evidence, and brought upon himselt a rebuke from the coroner, was subsequently sworn, and said he did not know anything about seafaring matters. He was invited by William Bath to come out for a trip, and he (witness) jumped in the boat. He went out with a party before tho party which met with the accident. He went out for his own pleasure. He did not expect to be paid for going out. He could not say how it was they wen6 feSyowfi the breakwater the second time. JJfe knew UflAhing at all about the sea, the grC&fii&swell, currents, or anything else. By Mr Bruce He had been in Bath's boat be [ore but he was not in it when it became un- managable. He did not pay for the trip, neither had he been paid. By the jury The trip in the morning returned from the end of the breakwater. He was not nt the tiller. He believed some of the passengers asked to be allowed to go out further. Hector Evans now asked the jnrv ha told anybody that he had taken ehargQ the boat. and if SQ. what was the uunaetat*liuet wiad he received. He distinctly denied having accepted any responsibility. The Coroner summed up. and in the course of his remarks, explained the law of manslaughter. The cause of death was clear, but the jury had to decide from the evidence whether any person or persons were responsible, and if so, who. The overloading of a boat was an unlawful act, and they had it from Captain Ace, Mr Snoek, and Mr Bevan that the boat was overloaded. The Baths were tinworkers, who apparently thought that they might on Bank Holiday make a little money. The carrying capacity of the boat was said to be 16, whereas no less than 35 were taken out on the fatal trip. It was for the jury to determine whether the disaster was the result of negligence, or whether it was merely an accident. The jury retired to consider their verdict, and on returning into court after (a few minutes' consultation, the Foreman announced that they had found that deceased had met their death as thejresulo of the capsizing of a boat, and that they considered Wm. Bath anaL John Bath to be guilty of manslaugbther; they added to their verdict as a rider, a reccornendation to the Cor- poration of Aberavon to frame bye-laws regulating the management of pleasure boats, and defining the limits of plying for hire. The Foreman added that the lamentable accident was^deeply regretted, and he hoped that people in search of pure air would not in conse- quence of the accident be prejudiced against the Aberavon beach, as he could offer the assurance that it was one of the safest. The disaster which had been the subject of their inquiry was the result of the indiscreet conduct of inex- perienced persons. TheCoroner committed William Bath and John Bath to take their trial at the assizes on a charge of manslaughter, bail being accepted in each case in the sum of £50 and a surety of £25.









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