Death came with tragic suddenness last Friday to a well-known district young man, Richard John O’Connell, eldest son of Mr John E. O’Connell, Frankton. The deceased was employed on the Brian Boru dredge at Nelson Creek, Ngahere, (West Coast), and, according to the meagre particulars wired through the Press Association, he was working at the time (1 p.m.) in a shaft 40ft deep. His mate noticed pebbles dropping down the shaft and he called immediately to O’Connell, warning him of the danger. However, evidently before he could heed the warning, a quantity of debris came in, covering him and causing his death. The falling in of the shaft is reported to have been due to earth tremors, which were felt in the locality about that time. Desperate efforts were made to extricate the unfortunate young man from the debris, but life was extinct by the time that was accomplished. The very sad news was received here on Friday night by Mr O’Connell and members of his family, who will have the sincerest sympathy of the people of this district in their great bereavement.
“Dick” O’Connell, as he was familiarly known to everyone, was born at Middlemarch, 28 years ago. When his father took up Wyuna Station, Glenorchy, some 46 years ago, the family removed to Wakatipu, and later to Frankton, when the late Mr Frank McBride sold out to Mr O’Connell. Dick received his secondary education at the Christian Brothers School in Dunedin, of which he was dux one year. He proved to be a brilliant pupil, for he topped the list for New Zealand in the year he sat for a Junior National Scholarship, and subsequently he gained a Senior National Scholarship. Shortly after he left the tutelage of the Christian Brothers he accepted a position as teacher of the Glenmure school, southland, where he remained for 3 years. Then he transferred to the Gibbston school. However, having given it a fair trial, he did not feel school teaching to be his vocation, so he resigned his appointment. Some time later he entered the employ of the Sandhills Mining Co. at Skippers, remaining with the Company for about 2 years. Subsequently he went to Southland, where he went on his uncle’s farm at Mabel Bush. Later he found his way to the Marlborough district, which led, about 12 months ago, to his taking a position on the Brian Boru dredge at Ngahere.
Dick O’Connell was a very fine stamp of young New Zealander. Sterling in character, and of chaste, and warm affections, he ran a straight race, doing conscientiously the duty that lay nearest to him, cultivating that fine sense which men call courtesy, and discharging at all times the common charities of life.
Dick O’Connell was a prominent footballer, and he had represented Wakatipu in County matches. On and off the field he was known as a true sport.
His younger brother is Mr ‛Ted’ O’Connell (Mabel Bush), and his sisters are Mrs W. Prendergast (Hyde), Mrs H. Matheson (Dunedin), Misses Mary O’Connell (Nelson) and Patty (Mabel Bush). Other young step-brothers and sisters reside at Frankton.
The remains were interred yesterday at the Coast, where decease’s uncle and aunt and some other relatives reside.