1906: PO Spry driving fire engine in fatal crash

Manawatu Standard, 18 December 1906, p 5


A shocking accident occurred on Lambton Quay, Wellington, at about 4.40 p.m. yesterday, resulting in the instantaneous death of Mrs Amy Kensington, wife of Mr W.C. Kensington, Under-Secretary for Lands, and serious injury to her daughter, Miss Louisa Kensington.

The deceased and her two daughters, Misses Louisa and Olive Kensington, were proceeding homewards along Lambton Quay when the Fire Brigade motor engine, which was proceeding to a scrub fire in the Botanical Gardens, came along the quay, and turned sharply from the quay into Bowen street, dashed into the ladies as they were passing over the Bowen street crossing.

The front of the car struck Mrs Kensington, knocking her over, and the machine passed over her prostrate body [graphic reference deleted]. The left-hand side wheel must have passed over Miss Louisa Kensington’s left leg, for it received a compound fracture. The car was pulled up in its own length, and what assistance could be rendered under the distressing circumstances was offered. Drs Pollen and Izard were soon upon the scene, and the body of both the deceased lady and her daughter were removed to the family residence in Hobson crescent.

P.O. Spry, motor engineer and car-driver for the brigade, states that the car proceeded along the quay at a rate of from 15 to 16 miles an hour. About forty yards from Quinton’s corner the bell was rung many times, and the speed was reduced so that the corner could be rounded in safety. When he saw the ladies they were nearly half-way across the Bowen Street crossing, and seeing that they were proceeding northwards he guided the car to run between them and Quinton’s corner. Then when they went back he swerved slightly to clear them on the other side, but they started forward (northwards) again, getting right in the track of the motor (which was then proceeding at a rate of between eight and nine miles per hour). When he saw an accident was inevitable he applied the two internal expanding brakes, and pulled the car up in three of four yards. Had the ladies gone on when they first heard the bell or had stopped still no accident would have occurred, but the flurry the ladies got into made his task a most difficult one.

Spry states that the brakes were on before the car struck the ladies. This statement is borne out by the fact that when it was brought to a standstill the rear part of the car was just clear of the body, and the motor had to be moved on a little to get at the deceased. Spry, who is very much concerned over the accident, is a skilled motorman and motor engineer, and has been in charge of the brigade motor since October 26th. He has been connected with the motor-car business for the past ten years, the last seven of which he has been driving for some time on the Rotorua-Taupo-Napier service. It is understood that Mr W.C. Kensington (for whom a great deal of sympathy will be felt) was among those who walked across from the Government Buildings to ascertain the nature of the accident.

[Mr Spry and the Deputy Superintendent of the Fire Brigade were charged with reckless driving and manslaughter.]

Colonist, 6 February 1907, p 4


Wellington, Feb 5

At the Supreme Court the Grand Jury threw out the bill charging William O’Brien and Palmer Spry, of the Wellington City Fire Brigade, with the manslaughter of Mrs Amy Kensington.