Railway porter spots body lying on tracks from his posting at the Bulli Coal Siding

Sandon Point Signal Box

The now demolished Bulli Coal Siding Signal Box in 1987 (Picture: Graeme Skeet). Charles Frederick Smith, a porter at Bulli Railway Station, was on duty at the signal box on the morning of October 26 1938. At about 5.45am, when looking through the signal box window he saw a body lying between the rails about 200 yards north of the signal box. He returned to the signal box and informed the stationmaster at Bulli by telephone.

Young Man’s Neck Broken

At the Court House at Bulli yesterday, the District Coroner, Mr. W. G. Payne, conducted an inquest relating to the death of Henry Lachlan Curteis, 20 years of age, who had resided with his mother at 127 Campbell-street, Woonona, deceased being run over by a train on 26th October last. Mr. M. F. Fagan represented the Railway Commissioners, being assisted by Mr. B. Bailey, representing the Chief Mechanical Engineer, and Segt. Malley represented the police.

Levi Pendlebury, a brick burner, residing at Main-road, Thirroul, stated , he was employed at night work at Newbold brickworks at Thirroul, on the night of 25th October, and at about 1.40am next day deceased came to the brickworks and asked if Aub Herring was on shift, witness replying that he was not. Deceased did not appear to be talkative, but remained for about five minutes.

As deceased was leaving witness said to him “It’s very dark without lights on, so be careful walking along, the railway line,” and deceased replied “All right, good night.” Deceased was quite sober, and appeared to be normal, with no indication whatever that he might take his own life.

Charles Frederick Smith, a railway porter attached to Bulli station, stated he was on duty at Bulli colliery crossing signal box on the morning, of the 26th October. At about 5.45 am, when looking through the signal box window he saw an object lying between the rails at a position about 200 yards north of the signal box. He went forward and saw the object was the dead body of a man. He immediately returned to the signal box and informed the stationmaster at Bulli by telephone.

Cecil Charles Paynter, a locomotive driver, residing at Station-street, Thirroul, deposed that on the 26th October he left Port Kembla, with a train at 2.23 am. The train did not stop at Bulli.

The engine was travelling bunker first. As soon as the train crossed Bulli Colliery siding crossing he recollected there was a slight bump as though the engine crossed a higher rail. He did not see any person in the locality at the time. The night was dark and there was drizzling rain. At the time of the accident the train was travelling around a curve. It was difficult to see five yards ahead.

Constable Crozier stated that he went to the scene of the accident and saw the badly mutilated body of deceased, which had been dragged for about 105 feet, lying between the rails. Deceased was of sober habits and intoxicating liquor did not contribute in any way to the accident.

Dr. C. R. Palmer stated that he examined the body, in the ambulance at his surgery at Bulli. Death was due to a broken neck. Aubrey William Herring, a brickmaker, residing at Campbell-street, Woonona, gave evidence of identification of the body. He knew deceased well, the hearing and eyesight of latter being quite good.

The Coroner gave a finding of accidental death. No blame could be attached to the driver of the locomotive. It was known that the railway authorities are doing all possible to warn persons against trespassing on the railway line, but people continued to use the railway line as a short cut.

– Illawarra Mercury Friday 11 November 1938

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