November 11, 1901
At the Burnley Town Hall on Monday morning, Mr. Coroner Robinson conducted an inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Mr. Alexander Lang, the landlord of the Dog and Duck Inn, St. James’-street, a former member of the Burnley Football Team.
Mary Elizabeth Lang, the widow, said her husband was 38 years of age, and that he was quite well on Friday. She saw him fall in the bar on the afternoon of that day – Sutcliffe Davies, a weaver, 111, Piccadilly-road, gave evidence to the effect that he was in the bar at the “Dog and Duck” on Friday afternoon, when he saw deceased trying to loose a bolt connected with the beer-pump with a screw-key.
He fell backwards to the floor. Witness and others thought he was in a fit, and lifted him up. A doctor was sent for.
– In reply to a juryman, Davies said the screw-key did not slip.
Dr. Smirthwaite-Black stated that he had made a post mortem examination of the body. He found the head was dislocated from the top of the spinal-column, or the back-bone.
There was much blood on the surface of the brain and in the interior, and death in his opinion was the result of that bleeding.
The dislocation, he thought, would be caused by a fall backwards with the head coming in contact with the floor or something else.
The Coroner: It is an extraordinary case.
Dr. Smirthwaite-Black: Yes, it is the second of the sort I have seen.
Proceeding, the doctor said something of the same kind took place in judicial executions, when a man was hanged. He understood Lang was sitting in collier-like fashion, on his toes, so to speak, when the screw-key must have slipped, and he fell backwards.
A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.
(Source: Burnley Express: November 13, 1901)