The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 27th, 2013

June 16, 1938 The Springhill Record - A.J. Mason Involved in Tragic Highway Accident; Crown Lays Formal Charge of Manslaughter

     Nathan Stiles, 25, of Upper Nappan, is dead and Bertrand Nelson of Fenwick lies in serious condition in Highland View Hospital, Amherst as a result of a collision with a car on Fenwick hill shortly after midnight Monday.  A.J. Mason, of Springhill, driver of the car, was cut about the nose from flying glass when his windshield was smashed during the collision.  The two boys were riding bicycles down the hill at the time of the accident on their way to Stiles’ home.

     As the story of the accident unfolded before a coroner’s jury in the Town Hall of Amherst, Tuesday evening, it was evident from evidence and official measurements taken by Corporal Nilsson of the RCMP, that Mr. Mason, on his way home from a business trip to Amherst was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the accident.

     Three boys, Nathan Stiles, Bertrand and Hilton Nelson, had been spending the evening at the Nelson home where they had been engaged in laying a hardwood floor.  They left about midnight for the home of Nathan Stiles where they were employed cutting pulpwood.  They came out on the main highway at the church with Nathan Stiles and Bertrand Nelson leading the way.  These 2 bikes were equipped with flashlights attached to the handlebars.  Hilton Nelson admitted he had no light on the bicycle he was riding.

     With Bertrand leading the cyclist came to the big hill where Hilton stated he passed Bertrand and Stiles passed his brother.  They were riding one behind the other he stated.  Then he saw this car coming around the curve on his side of the road, some 70 to 100 feet away.  He moved out unto the gravel shoulder, he said, as he passed the car.  He heard a crash.  He thought the others were about 50 feet behind him.  When he came back his brother was lying in the middle of the pavement on the white line.  He couldn’t speak.  The other boy, Stiles, was in the ditch on the right – hand side.  He assisted Mr. Mason to put the boys in his car and he went to Percy Ripley’s house nearby while Mr. Mason raced for the Hospital.

Mason Calls Police – Having arrived at the Hospital and done everything he could for the injured boys, Mr. Mason phoned Cpl. Nilsson of the RCMP who hastened to the Hospital, where he examined the two men, finding one dead.  He got a statement from Bertrand.  He then went to the scene of the accident with Mr. Mason and made an examination.  He produced for the jury a rough plan for the spot and measurements as to the position of Mr. Mason’s car.

     On the stand, Cpl. Nilsson said an examination of the car revealed the left front headlight was broken off; the left front mudguard was dented badly and the bicycle tire marks showed on the curved part.  The windshield was broken out and there was a dent on the top of the car at the left front.  The foot brake was in perfect shape while the emergency was a little slack. 

     The tracks of the car showed it was moving towards the right but after the brakes had been applied the left front wheel was still about two feet from the white line.  The marks of the tires were plainly visible after the brakes had been applied the car travelling 35 feet one inch; this included the length of the car. There were blood spots some feet in front of where the car stopped and over the white line according to the Corporal’s drawing.

May Have Run Into Car – In reply to a question asked by Mr. Mason’s Solicitor, J. Gordon Fogo, of Halifax, Cpl. Nilsson admitted the car may have been stopped when the bicycles struck it.  

Call Father of Dead Boy Allison Stiles, father of the boy killed, gave evidence that his son had been in perfectly good health before the accident.

Mr. Mason Not Called to Stand – The jury was asked if they wished to hear any evidence from Mr. Mason, but they did not think it necessary.  Mr. Mason’s Solicitor stated that Mr. Mason was prepared to give evidence if they wanted him to, but he did not insist on being heard at this time.

Jury Retires – For over an hour the jury deliberated, studying the evidence and also a rough draft of the scene prepared by Cpl. Nilsson.  They returned with the verdict that Nathan Stiles “came to his death by colliding with a car driven by A.J. Mason, of Springhill.”

     Wednesday a formal charge of manslaughter was laid against Mr. Mason.  The preliminary hearing will be held Wednesday, June 22.