Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.

AUGUST 17th

On this day in history in 1898, died Bridget Driscoll.

On the morning of August 17th 1896, Bridget Driscoll, aged forty-four, accompanied by her two daughters, was crossing the grounds of the Crystal Palace, on the way to a dancing display, when a motor vehicle knocked her down and killed her instantly. She was the first person to be killed in a motor accident.

The car was the property of the Anglo-French Motor Company and was being used to give demonstration rides to the public. Witnesses to the accident stated that the car was being driven at a reckless pace, in the manner of a fire engine, at a speed estimated at four miles an hour.

At the inquest, the driver, Arthur Edsall, stated that he was proceeding in a sedate manner when the deceased walked in front of his vehicle. A witness gave evidence that Edsall had modified the engine in order to increase its speed, but this was vehemently denied. An independent engineer examined the engine and testified that no modification had taken place but nevertheless, the vehicle was capable of speed of up to four and a half miles per hour!

It took the coronerís jury six hours to bring in a verdict of accidental death. The coroner, Mr William Morrison, stated that he hoped such a thing would never happen again!

For the first railway death, click here

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