Unit 7 Exercise 1

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When is it bad to be first?

There are thousands of accidents every day, involving trains, pedestrians, cars and planes. In many of these accidents, people die. But when did the person die in a train accident, a car accident or a plane crash?

On 15th September 1830, there was a competition in Liverpool, England between railway engines. Many people came to watch, including William Huskisson, a member of the government. Huskisson was talking and did not see one of the engines, The Rocket, coming towards him. It was travelling at about 40 kilometres per hour. It hit him and he became the first person to die in a accident.

The first pedestrian to die in a accident was a scientist called Mary Ward. On 31st August, 1869 she fell under a car in Ireland. The first pedestrian to be killed by a petrol car was a middle-aged woman, Bridget Driscoll. She died as she was crossing a road in a park in 1896. A man called Arthur Edsall hit her at 6 kilometres per hour. The lawyer at the inquest into death said: “This kind of accident must never happen again”.

On 25th February 1899, Edwin Sewell, an engineer, was driving his car down a hill near London. One wheel broke and he hit a wall. Sewell became the first driver to die in a road accident. His passenger, a soldier called Richer, fell out of the car and died three days later in hospital.

Orville Wright was a maker of bicycles but he was famous because he made the first flight on 17th December 1903 in the USA. The plane, called The Flyer, travelled 37 metres. Five years later, Thomas Selfridge, an soldier, took off with Orville in the plane. They were flying at about 25 metres when the propeller broke. The plane crashed. Selfridge became the first person to die in a crash. Orville broke his leg but he survived the accident.