Drowned in the River

Septimus Eyes, 1859 - 1947, husband of the dead woman.

Septimus Eyes, 1859 – 1947, husband of the dead woman.

On September 17th, 1911, Septimus Eyes, proprieter of the Rai Falls Accomodation House in the Rai Valley, New Zealand, retired to bed as normal. Waking at approximately 4.20am, he struck a match to ascertain the time then went back to sleep, noting that his wife was also still awake. At 7.20am, he woke for a second time and realised that his wife, Emily Cecelia Eyes (nee Jones), was no longer there.

He woke up his family and started to search the house and the surrounding vicinity but there was no sign of her. They even searched further afield into the nearby bush areas to no avail; Emily was missing. Septimus immediately became concerned for his wife’s wellbeing as, in addition to her complaining of headaches and noticing a decline in her health over the past three months, the area had been inundated with flood waters from the Pelorus River and the water had become too deep for coaches to pass through.

Search parties were deployed led by Constable O’Grady and the local newspapers reported the details of the missing woman but, by September 21st, still no trace could be found. By now, it was assumed that she had fallen into the swollen river but, due to the increasing water levels, the authorties had been unable to conduct any dragging operations.

The Pelorus River, where Mrs Eyes died, was a location used in 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' films.

The Pelorus River, where Mrs Eyes died, was a location used in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ films.

On October 5th, William Twidle, a farmer from the Pelorus, had just started to milk his cows when one of his boys noticed an object floating on the far side of the river. He got into a dinghy and went to investigate. On pulling the object into the dinghy, he found that it was the body of a woman, so travelled to Havelock to make contact with the local police.

The family was summoned and Septimus identified the body as his wife by a ring she was wearing. Their son, Harry Dean Eyes, viewed the body and also confirmed it was his mother. He told the following inquest that, on the night before her disappearance, he had spoken to his mother at about 10pm but had not noticed anything strange about her manner. The body was also identified by Herbert Spencer Jones, Emily’s brother, who corroborated statements regarding the declining health of the dead woman.

The jury at the inquest did not take any time to conclude that Emily had lately been troubled by her health, resulting in bouts of insomnia. The verdict was recorded as ‘death by misadventure.’ She was buried at Havelock Cemetery on October 6th, 1911.