21st September 1885

Inquest launched into another Jersey railway death

For such a short network, Jersey Railway certainly had its fair share of accidents and fatalities. In this instance, the victim was 53-year-old Philip Pinel, who had met his untimely end in St Helier under what the British Press of the following evening described as “painful circumstances”. The paper continued, “it is needless to state that the body bore terrible marks of the injuries sustained by the victim whose previous loss of one arm and several fingers rendered his appearance still more distressing”.

Crushed by the train

Pinel had been crushed by the train’s axle box, which was still smeared with his blood when police arrived at the scene. He was killed on the spot, but taken to hospital nonetheless, where blood was draining from his nostrils and ears, and a crack at the base of his skull.

It seems that Pinel had fallen between two carriages and under the train, where he’d been crushed between the locomotive and the wall that supported the platform. His son had witnessed the accident and called for the train to stop, then jumped down onto the tracks to rescue his father. A report in the Jersey Weekly Press and Independent describes how the elder Pinel “was quite doubled up, with his head to his knees. His feet and knees were against the wall, and his back against the front axle-box. The carriage had to be uncoupled before he could be removed. He was dead when he was picked up… the axle-box was pressing on the neck of deceased, and pushing his head down when witness found him.”

Witnessed by his son

Tragically for Pinel’s son, it seems that calling out his father’s name, just as his father was boarding, may have caused him to turn around, at which point his already maimed hand slipped off the rail he was holding, causing him to lose his balance.

By the time of the inquest, which was called within a week of the death, nobody could agree on which carriage Pinel had fallen from, or which one he was found under. What was certain, though was that the train had moved less than a carriage length when it stopped, so Pinel’s death had likely been almost instantaneous. The inquest passed a verdict of accidental death.


FREE Jersey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Jersey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.



Other events that occured in September