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Karl Williams, from Dover, killed by lorry on M20 after discharging himself from Ashford's William Harvey Hospital

By KentOnline reporter

A schizophrenic man was killed when he walked out in front of a lorry on the M20 after discharging himself from hospital, an inquest heard.

Karl Williams, 49, of Rokesley Road, Dover, had been waiting to be seen by a doctor at William Harvey Hospital's A&E department on September 5 last year.

He had been taken to the hospital by ambulance at around 11.30pm after slashing his arm with scissors, but walked out after two hours of waiting.

William Harvey hospital. Library image.
William Harvey hospital. Library image.

Soon after, he was spotted by a passing driver standing at the bottom of the junction 10 slip road.

Joanne Sheehy, from Ashford, was driving back from Gatwick with her friend when she saw Mr Williams.

She told the hearing: “We thought ‘what on earth is he doing there’.

"I'm of the opinion that had Mr Williams been seen very quickly, it's possible that he would not have left and may not have died that night" - Coroner Rachel Redman

“Then my friend looked in the mirror and said ‘oh my god, he’s been hit.’ She said he just stepped out.”

The German driver of the white Mercedes Actros lorry, travelling at 55mph, slammed on his brakes when he spotted Mr Williams.

In a statement, he said: “He ran out in front of me, hit the front of my vehicle and flew backwards.”

Paramedics and emergency crews rushed to the coastbound carriageway but Mr Williams was dead at the scene.

At the inquest on Wednesday last week, Rachel Redman, Coroner for South East Kent, said there was not enough evidence to prove Mr Williams had committed suicide.

Although he had discharged himself from St Martin’s in Canterbury just 10 days before his death, mental health teams said he was still engaging with them.

Mrs Redman said: “Mr Williams suffered from a long term schizoaffective disorder and had been known to mental health services. On September 4 he was found in Dover with a deep self inflicted wound to his arm.

The M20, where Mr Williams died. Picture: Google.
The M20, where Mr Williams died. Picture: Google.

“He was taken to the William Harvey Hospital but he left. He then walked into the path of an oncoming lorry and he sustained fatal injuries.

“From the evidence available it’s not possible to determine suicidal intent.”

His stepfather, David Sayer, agreed with the coroner, adding: “I do not totally believe he set out to kill himself.”

Coroner Rachel Redman said she would be filing a Preventing Future Death Report to address staffing issues at A&E to ensure a psychiatric nurse is present in the department 24 hours a day.

She added: “I’m of the opinion that had Mr Williams been seen very quickly it’s possible that he would not have left and may not have died that night.”

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