James was employed at the cyanide works of the Cosmopolitan Gold Mine, Kookynie. When O'Connor was on shift it was his duty to oil the bearings. O'Connor was wearing a loose navy blue serge coat. At the inquest held at Kookynie on 21 July 1908 by Acting Coroner W.J. Carrick, J.P. William. R. Cortis, Government Medical Officer, stated: "I went to the mine and, accompanied by two men, went up a ladder and along a platform to where I saw the body of the deceased. I saw at once that he was dead. The body was attached to a shaft at the place marked on the plan. It was attached by the deceased's clothing, which was twisted round the shaft. The deceased, who had been dead about a quarter of an hour, had his two legs torn off below the knees and the left arm broken and almost torn off. Also, several ribs on the left side were broken. The injuries were sufficient to account for immediate death. It appeared to me that the coat of the deceased had been torn and the torn corner had caught in the shaft. It was a bright clear moonlight night, with a strong northerly wind blowing and the wind would be apt to blow the clothing of any person standing on the platform, onto the shaft."
The verdict of the jury was :'That James O'Connor, on the 18th July, 1908, came to his death at the Cosmopolitan mine by being caught on a shafting and that there is no blame attached to anyone.' O'Connor died intestate with an estate valued at £119. He had lived in Kookynie for about 4 years. Unmarried, James' siblings were noted in his estate. They were John O'Connor, Patrick O'Connor, Mary O'Connor, Annie O'Connor, and Catherine O'Connor.