"A SAD FATALITY.
An inquest into the circumstances of the death of Isaac Chadwick Taylor, jnr., was opened by the Coroner (Mr. W. A. Barton, S.M.), this morning.
Isaac Chadwick Taylor, father of the deceased, said he was a returned soldier and lived in Ormond road. Witness last saw deceased alive about 7.30 p.m., on the night of July 4, at his home. He went out of the house saying he was going to the rear, and that was the last witness saw of him. Deceased went to the front with the 5th Reinforcements and saw action at Gallipoli and in France. Just before he went out on July 4th, deceased was in a chair trembling violently. Witness told him to go and lie down. He replied: "Stand back; I am speaking to my God." He seemed to go through his experiences in the trenches again, and was getting violently worked up. Witness believed his mind was unhinged through shell shock. Deceased suffered from insomnia since his return from the front. He never suggested suicide.
George Frederick Wm. Taylor, laborer, Gisborne, deposed to having seen the body, and recognised it as that of his brother. Witness last saw him alive on Tuesday, 2nd inst., at his father's house. Witness went to Auckland in March last to meet deceased on his return from the front. His brother was suffering from shell shock and neurasthenia. He said he lost his speech for three months at Torquay as a result of shock received on active service in France. Since his return to Gisborne deceased suffered some very bad turns. He showed emotional and depressed mood at times. He never hinted at any intention to do away with himself. Deceased suffered from neurasthenia which caused a marked depression, and he would think over his experiences at the front and then shed tears and thoroughly break down.
Mary Keeney, wife of Michael Keeney, deposed she was by Peel street bridge about 8.30 p.m., when she heard a gurgling sound and someone calling for help. One of two men that came along jumped into the water to rescue the drowning man. Witness sent someone to notify the police of the affair.
Arthur Wm.. Merritt, laborer, said he. was in company with John Matthews at the corner of Palmerston road and Peel street, about 8.30 p.m. His attention was called to splashing in the river. He and Matthews saw somebody struggling in the water, in the middle of the river. Matthews went to the Whataupoko side, and witness went to the town side. Matthews went into the water and took hold of deceased, who was brought ashore with witness' assistance. A constable then started artificial respiration, having just arrived on the scene. Dr. Kahlenburg arrived about 20 minutes, later. Witness knew deceased, and last saw him alive on the afternoon of the 1st. Deceased returned from the front about the same time as witness.
John Forde-Matthews returned soldier, corroborated the evidence of the previous witness, except that, he said the deceased fell off the bridge. Witness dived under and grabbed him. While bringing him ashore his (witness') fingers were getting numbed, so he called to Merritt, who came out and gave assistance. Witness was not clear what happened after that, as he was exhausted and "just about done."
Constable Gartley also gave evidence. The doctor, he said, arrived about twenty minutes after the man was brought ashore. The doctor pronounced life to be extinct, and the body was removed to the morgue, where no marks of violence were found when the examination was made.
The following verdict was returned: I find that the deceased Jsaac Chadwiok Talyor, on July 4, 1918, came to his death by drowning, or shock caused by either falling from or throwing himself from a bridge known as the Peel street bridge, into the Taruheru river. The evidence shows that the deceased had been suffering from shell shock received by him while serving with the military forces in France, which probably unhinged his mind. I am of the opinion that the deceased, while in a state o£ unsound mind, threw himself from the bridge into the Taruheru river and died from the result thereof.
The Coroner added a rider that the action of the two returned soldiers, Matthews and Merritt was most commendable." [Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLV, Issue 14650, 6 July 1918, Page 5]
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Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum