Death of Norman Leslie O’Brien


Norman Leslie O’Brien (33) received fatal injuries at Cawongla yesterday wehen morning when he was struck on the left side of the chest by a large piece of blue metal which was blown from a quarry about 75 yards away.
Workmates who were close to O’Brien when he received the slow showed commendable bvravery in dragging the injured man under shelter while five more charges exploded in the quarry. O’Brien who lived at North Lismore was a motor lorry driver under contract to the Main Roads Department. He was employed to carry metal required on the road construction work in the Cawongla district where more than than 100 men, operating two shifts are engaged.

O’Brien left his home at Lismore on Sunday and commenced work with the first shift early yesterday morning. When workemn ceased for breakfast about 9 o’clock six charges of explosive were placed in the quarry face. O’Brien had taken a billy to the open fire to obtain boiling water and was stooping over the fireplace when the first charge exploded.
“A shower of blue metal went up in the air and one piece of stone weighing about 12lbas struck O’Brien, said a workmate. “A warning was shouted but it was too late to be effective.


The force of the blue metal spun O’Brien round and his head struck the ground. His extensive injuries included a fractured shoulder and a fractured arm and lacerations to the face. A party of about 14 other workmen were nearby and, ignoring the possibility of being struck by a piece of flying metal went to O’Brien’s aid.

William Campbell, who was standing a few feet away from O’Brien when he was struck said the injured man was picked up and taken behind the galley.
The remaining shots went off in quick succession. O’Brien was still alive when he was placed in a lorry owned by the engineer-in-chqrge (Mr Steel) for transport to Kyogle. on the way to Kyogle, however, O’Brien died. In addition to a widow O’Brien is survived by one child.


Known as “Sandy”, O’Brien was popular with the men employed in the Cawongla district, and it was stated yesterday that following the tragedy the men had held a meeting and decided to assist the widow. Instead of taking a holiday to attend O’Brien’s funeral, the men will work their usual shift. The wages earned by the 130 men, the majority of whom are employed under the Emeregency Relief Scheme, will be pooled and presented to O’Brien’s wife and child. An inquest will probably be held in Kyogle on Monday.

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