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GREEN ISLAND FATALITY
EVIDENCE. AT INQUEST.
An inquest in the causes and circumstances surrounding the death of James Bell, who died whilst performing diving operations during the filming of the
film "Typhoon Treasure," at Green Island on October 27 last, was commenced yesterday before
Mr. R. C Grenier, Coroner.
Sergeant W. Bonas examined the witnesses.
Alexander Bruce Cummings, residing at Green Island, stated he followed the occupation of cinematographer, and was in the employ of the Commonwealth Film Laboratory Pty. Ltd., engaged filming underwater scenes in connection with the film "Typhoon Treasure." Witness had known Bell for two years, and the company had engaged him to do diving and under- water scenes for the male lead of the film. He was known as a "double." Bell had carried out several diving scenes for witness last year when he was engaged making shorts, and had also been down a few times this year.
SWAYING WITH CURRENT.
On October 27 witness was in a diving cylinder, and was informed by another man, Gamble, that Bell was on his way down, and Gamble asked witness if he could see Bell. Witness replied "No," but shortly afterwards. the cylinder was turned by the current and he caught a glimpse of Bell, when he appeared to tbe leaning against a reef of coral. There did not appear to be anything wrong with him, but later, when the cylinder was again turned, he noticed deceased, and there appeared to be something wrong with him. He was standing, leaning slightly back, and with his two arms outstretched, swaying with the current. Bell did not have hold of either the life or air line, and witness called Gamble on the phone and told him to give Bell a tug on the life-line. He noticed the line was pulled and there was no response. He then called to Gamble, "Pull him up quickly, there seems to be something wrong. Pull mc up." When witness came to the
surface the others were trying to get Bell into the flattie. His face-glass had been removed and witness noticed that his face was discolored. The hel- met and corselet were removed from Bell's diving suit, and witness tried
artificial respiratory methods, but
Witness stated that Bell was a robust looking man, but had mentioned at times that he had turns, and once said "that his ticker was not too good," meaning his heart, and said that he took strychnine. Witness warned him about the risk. Bell apparently had no fears for diving, and stated that he intended going to Thursday Island to follow pearl diving. The diving suit was modern, and in quite good order. They were engaged at work in 30 feet of water which was considered shallow for diving.
So far as was known Bell was a single man, and his mother resided in Wattle Glen, Victoria.
SIGNALLED "OK" Hector Joseph Gamble, a clerk employed by the Railway Department, gave evidence that he went to Green Island to spend a holiday, and while there assisted Mr. B. Cummings to take diving "shots" for a film. Bell was employed by the company as a diver. On October 27, Cummings, deceased and witness, together with four aborigines from Yarrabah Mis- sion, left Green Island by launch and anchored about one mile away on the reef in 30 feet of water, with the intention of taking underwater scenes. Cummings went below in a cylinder but came up after about 20 minutes and said the location was not suitable They then moved about 40, feet away, After lunch Bell donned the diving suit, and after a two minutes' air test on deck went below, assisted by Harold, an aboriginal, who acted as tender. Cummings also entered the cylinder and was lowered. into the water. Bell signalled "O.K.", on the life-line, and on reaching the bottom again signalled "O.K."
Witness added that he spoke to Cummings by telephone to the cylinder, who said it was bumpy and asked to be shifted. In reply to a question by witness, Cummings said he could see Bell. The cylinder was moved, and later Cummings called him on the phone and said there appeared to be something the matter with Bell, as he was in a reclining position. Witness ordered the tender to signal Bell, and after two calls with no response he ordered him to be brought up. He was a dead-weight, and gave no assistance when being hauled up. The face-glass of the helmet was removed by Harold, and witness noticed that Bell was bleeding from his nose and ears, his face was swollen and dis- colored. He appeared to be dead Meanwhile Cummings had been brought, to the surface and he immediately applied artificial respiration methods for some time, but without
success. The body was then brought to Cairns; and the police notified.
"SUFFERED A STROKE."
In reply to Sergeant Bonas, witness said Bell appeared to be in good health, and. did not complain of any illness. Only seven or eight minutes would have elapsed from the time Bell went below until he was hauled to the surface again. A post-mortem was held, and death revealed to be due to heart failure. Witness formed the opinion at the time that Bell had suffered a stroke.
The inquiry was adjourned to a date to be fixed.