Somerset County Herald 30 Mar 1957 Workman Drowned Bridgwater Victor John BINDING 2 Old Road North Petherton Arthur TINSLEY Francis William CHEDZOY Peter John NEARY

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Somerset County Herald and Taunton Courier. Saturday 30 Mar 1957

Page 9 Column 4 and 5


Companion Commended on Gallant Rescue Bid

A WITNESS who attempted to save a workmate from drowning in the River Parrett at Bridgwater, was commended by the Borough Coroner, Mr. L. C. ROWE, on Thursday.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded on Victor John BINDING (28), labourer, 2, Old-road, North Petherton, whose body was recovered on the previous Friday after being missing for nearly a month. He had been working on the new bridge.

P.C. John HODGE said that on February 25th he was called to Salmon Parade, where he was informed that Mr. BINDING had fallen into the river and disappeared. A capsized boat was near the Blake Gardens side. The river was flowing out to sea very fast. On Friday the body was recovered near the drawbridge.

Questioned by Mr. J. L. SHAW, representing the relatives, P.C. HODGE said that now there was a rope across the river with slats of wood attached.

Mr. T. K. ARCHER, for the contractors, Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co., interjected. “There is no secret about it. The rope was not there then, but it is now.”

Boat Went Under

Francis William CHEDZOY, of Stathe-road, Burrowbridge, labourer on the site, said that BINDING was standing up in the boat by the coffer dam, near Blake Gardens. He shouted to witness to get the derrick jibbed out to the boat.

“I went to the driver of the derrick and told him to jib out,” said witness. “The driver let his hook down to the boat, which was fastened to the coffer dam by a rope. BINDING was holding on to the hook and steadying the boat with his feet, and all of a sudden the boat went under.”

Witness shouted to men on the other side, but BINDING disappeared. Mr. NEARY jumped into the river, but had to fight to save his own life.

Replying to Mr. SHAW, he said there was a boom across the river a few weeks before the accident, but it had been broken by the high water.

Mr. CHEDZOY explained that at the time the boat was being taken across the river.

A Death Trap”

“It was a death-trap boat, not fit for the job at all,” he added.

Arthur TINSLEY, Somerset Bridge, mixer driver, said BINDING asked him to assist with the boat. “I went on the top of the coffer dam and he asked me to fasten the rope. “Victor was holding the boat with his feet and asked me to let down all the slack of the rope. He took hold of the hook and fastened it to the boat chain.

Clinging to Rope

“The boat then went under the water and he shouted to me to keep hold of the rope. He was holding the rope and swaying from side to side with the swift-flowing water. I tried to pull him in, but it was too much for me so I shouted to the men on the Blake Gardens side. Mr. NEARY took off his jacket and dived into the water, but when he got into the river the strong flow turned him round and he had to struggle out.

“The next thing I saw was Victor struggling with one hand as if he was trying to get higher up the rope, but that was the last I saw of him.”

Cross-examined by Mr. SHAW, witness said there was a life-belt on the site, but with no rope attached.

Would-Be Rescuer's Story

Peter Francis NEARY, a welder, of 32, St. John-street, said that when he heard people shouting he tried to get his Wellington boots off. Realising, however, that there was very little time left, he ran down and jumped in, but after about four yards realised it was a hopeless case and that he was getting carried back.

Dr. E. J. HARRIES, pathologist, of Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, told the Coroner that death was caused by asphyxia due to drowning.

Coroner's Tribute

The Coroner commended Mr. NEARY for his promptitude, and for putting himself in no little danger by jumping in the fast-moving river to do what he could in an attempt to save the unfortunate man.

Mr. SHAW said how much the family appreciated Mr. NEARY's gallant efforts.

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