Link to detailed report on the snowfall event on 23rd-24th July 1879. "

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James Butler aged 18 perishes outdoors in South Australian snowfall near Jamestown on the night of 23-24 July 1879.

James Butler aged 18 perished outdoors in a snowfall near Jamestown in 1879. Two companions survived albeit very drunk and apparently asleep when he walked away from their horse-drawn conveyance and died. The subsequent inquest decided death had resulted from cold and exposure. Some questions will remain forever unanswered.

Here's an account of the incident and inquest findings as reported in a newspaper.
Source: Trove website.
The relevant text starts about a third of the way down the following article on Trove and begins with the words "The Jamestown Review says"
South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1868 - 1881)
Saturday 9 August 1879 Page 10.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/93969123

{quoting relevant section of a longer article}

"The Jamestown Review says : — "On Saturday morning, July 26, news was brought in that the dead body of a young man named James Butler, aged 18, had been found on the Yarcowie-road, about two miles from Jamestown. It appears that on Wednesday evening, July 23, the deceased started from Jamestown in company with John Butler and William Alford, and that deceased was quite sober, but that his two companions were almost helplessly drunk. When they left deceased was driving. Nothing more was known until Friday, when deceased's friends, becoming uneasy at his unexplained absence, proceeded to make enquiries, which elicited the fact that the missing man had not been seen by any of his friends. On Saturday morning a search party started, and found the body about 100 yards from the road in a paddock belonging to Mr. Mattey. Of the two companions of the deceased one, W. Alford, had returned to his farm up North, the other, John Butler, was present at the inquest, but declared himself unable to remember anything which had happened on Wednesday after 11 or 12 o'clock am. This witness stated that he awoke early on Thursday morning and found himself in the spring-cart nearly perished with cold and half covered with snow. Alford, who seems to have been tbe least drunk of the two, was standing near, but neither of them seems to have missed the deceased or to remember that they had started in his company. They found in the cart a waterproof overcoat, which they recognised as belonging to deceased, and in one of the pockets there was a bottle of rum with the seal unbroken. This was at about six miles from Jamestown. There was also an empty gin bottle at the back of the cart. Both the men, half frozen as they were, made their way home, and seem to have had a vague impression that deceased had come part of the way with them and started back again to Jamestown. From the position in which the body was found it seems probable that deceased left the cart intending to make to Mr. Mattey's residence, but was overcome with the cold. It will be remembered that the night of Wednesday was one of the most severe ever known in the North. The darkness and cold were intense, and heavy snow was falling. An inquest was held at the Globe Hotel on Sunday by Mr. J. Coombe, J.P. Evidence, of which the foregoing is a digest, was taken, and Dr. J. A. Cockburn deposed that the marks of struggling where the body was found were somewhat inconsistent with the assumption that deceased had died from cold, but that he could not pronounce positively as to the cause of death without a post-mortem. This having been directed, the inquest was adjourned to 7 p.m , at which hour the doctor resumed his evidence, and informed the Jury that he had found the vessels of the brain enormously congested, the stomach perfectly empty, and the rest of the organs in a normal condition. The appearances were such as might be expected when death had resulted from cold and exposure. The Jury returned a verdict accordingly."

Article identifier
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93969123
Page identifier
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8429427
APA citation
CORONERS' INQUESTS. (1879, August 9). South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1868 - 1881), p. 10. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93969123 "

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