Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 32, September 1988
Mr Jim Mills, Sexton of the Paeroa Cemetery, has made sketches of the headstones of men killed in the mines at Karangahake. Two of his sketches are reproduced on the opposite page.
FREDERICK J MIDDLETON
These two men, together with Mr F McSheen, were at work in the main inclined shaft at the Crown nine, Karangahake when an accident occurred at 3.10pm on Monday 7 December, 1903.
The Crown shaft was a four compartment shaft, with around 120 trucks of ore and mullock being lifted each day. Messrs Middleton, McColl and McSheen were working close together replacing bearers (heavy timber) in the winding compartment (the part of the shaft that the cage runs in) below Number 4B Level. They had worked together as a team for two years and were alert to the dangers of working below a cage which was winding ore. Far above them on Number 3 Level, Horace Moore was loading trucks of ore into the cage. He had finished winding from Number 2 Level and had made a start at Number 3. He took the empty truck off the cage and was pushing up a full one to replace it. The truck was within 2 feet of the cage when suddenly the cage lifted. Horace Moore struggled to stop the ore truck but the momentum was too great. The truck shot beneath the rising cage and plunged down the shaft.
Far below, Mr McSheen, ever alert, heard an unusual sound above them and yelled, "Jump!" Next thing he knew he was at the bottom of the shaft in darkness, with timber and mullock on top of him. Struggling to his feet, despite his injuries, he saw two lights above in the shaft, indicating that men were descending. At first he thought that it was his two work mates but it was a Mr Rowley and Mr McLoughery who had heard the noise and were coming to investigate. With the aid of candles they located Fred and Angus at the bottom of the shaft. The extent of their head injuries indicated that they had been killed instantly, hit by the falling truck.
An inquest was held and the cause of the accident was deemed to be that signals had been wrongly given for the raising of the cage by persons unknown above the Number 3 Level.