Mental health patient died after he stole and crashed his own ambulance

January 19, 2016 | by | 0 Comments
Mike South  (SWNS Group)

Mike South (SWNS Group)

A mental health patient died after stealing the ambulance he was being transported in and crashing it into a double decker bus, an inquest has heard.

Michael South, 40, from York, had a long history of depression, and had previously tried to crash a car containing his wife and child, the inquest in Bedale, North Yorks., was told on Monday.

He had been admitted to hospital after stabbing himself in the chest on April 7, 2015, and was being transported from St James Hospital in Leeds to Bootham Hospital in York on April 10, by a private ambulance contractor ERS.

The two attendants in the ambulance left the vehicle after it stopped on the A64, near Flaxton, leaving the keys in the ignition.

Mr South got into the driver’s seat and drove along the road before crossing into the opposite carriageway and crashing into a Coastliner bus, which had 16 people on board.

Another vehicle was also then involved in the crash.

The bus driver suffered leg injuries and five other people had minor injuries.

Coroner Michael Oakley read a statement from Mr South’s widow Lucy who said her husband had been ill for many years with bouts of severe depression.

In 1994 he was sent to prison for 18 months, and more recently had run up debts of £137,000 through online gambling, and borrowed over £52,000.

Mrs South said in January 2015 their marriage had irretrievably broken down after she had been in a car with Mr South taking him to hospital with their five-year-old son when he grabbed the steering wheel and pulled on the handbrake, forcing the car onto the pavement.

“I genuinely felt he was trying to kill us all,” she said.

Mrs South said doctors sectioned her husband but ten days later when they said he was suitable for leave she was too frightened to have him back home and a non-molestation order was granted.

“I felt his being there would be dangerous to Ryan and me. He was ill and had been for a long time, I had been left alone to cope with it. In the end I couldn’t handle it any longer.

“Michael needed professional help. The rational Michael would never have wanted to hurt anyone, he was a good, kind man,” she said.

Nurse Director at St James Hospital, Dawn Marshall told the inquest they used ERS ambulances for up to 1,500 patient movements a day.

A major investigation had been launched by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and systems changed.

Mr Oakley asked Ms Marshall if it would be fair to call the previous practice of booking transport as “inadequate.”

She responded: “There was a system in place that didn’t cope with the mental health needs Mr South had.”

The case continues.

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