Words written in stone endure

Words written in stone may not always last for ever, but they may endure for a long time.

The bitter epitaph above left, “one of seven victims of negligence” was etched in 1948, but still sends a clear message from the family of Victoria Herbert, who lost her life as she took the bus to the Mount Isa aerodrome to meet her married daughter, who was arriving from North Queensland. The grave is in the Mount Isa cemetery.

Victoria was among four killed and five injured in a smash between a goods train and a bus at a Mt Isa level crossing. Which doesn’t add up to seven, but that’s what the stone says.

Charles Reid, the bus driver, received abrasions and shock, but was not admitted to hospital.

Reid told police that he saw the train when it was 100 yards away.

 He said because of the rough road he was travelling slowly over the crossing, and accelerated, but the heavy bus could not clear the line in time.

The train crashed into the last three feet of the bus, dragging it 20 feet.

 Then the bus was crushed against the gateposts, splintering its framework to matchwood.

Longreach leader

Reid was charged with unlawfully killing, but after evidence from 10 witnesses the Stipendiary Magistrate found that “there had been some negligence, but not sufficient to warrant committing Reid to stand trial.

Pictured to the right above is the gravestone of William John Forster, 25, who died in the Longreach Hospital in 1939 after a car collided with him in Pelican Street about 10 o’clock one night.

It is curious that his gravestone, in the Longreach cemetery, states he was killed by “the Oakley car”.

It was reported that he was crossing the street in the vicinity of Turner’s bakery when he was hit by a car, driven by James Alexander Curtis, an employee of Oakley Station, a nearby large  property.

Why the station’s name ended up on the headstone is unknown, but it will forever be associated with his death.

Mount Isa, Queensland

SOURCES: The Longreach Leader, Saturday 14 October 1939 p 16

Townsville Daily Bulletin,  Wednesday 14 April 1948 p 2

The Courier-Mail,  Saturday 3 April 1948 p 1

Townsville Daily Bulletin, Wednesday 14 April 1948 p 2

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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