Inquest into the Death of Tony Wayne KENNEDY

Inquest into the Death of Tony Wayne KENNEDY

Delivered on : 6 March 2023

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : State Coroner Fogliani

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary :  On 8 March 2022 Mr Tony Wayne Kennedy (Mr Kennedy) died after jumping from the freeway overpass near the intersection of Kwinana Freeway and Thomas Road, Bertram.  He landed on the ground below, and his death was caused by multiple injuries, that were non-survivable.  He was 52 years old.

Concerned members of the public had seen Mr Kennedy perched on the outside railing of the freeway overpass.  It was clear that if he let go of the railing, he would fall to his death.  The ‘000’ calls to the police started at 5.22 am.  Police were promptly dispatched arriving at the scene, under Priority 1 driving conditions, within approximately five minutes, at 5.27 am.  As they neared the area, they switched off the police sirens.  Their aim was to try and speak with Mr Kennedy and persuade him not to jump.

They parked the police vehicle approximately 10 to 15 metres from where Mr Kennedy was, and one of the police officers came out of the vehicle.  He called on Mr Kennedy not to jump and tried not to be overly loud with him.  He tried to get closer to Mr Kennedy to assist him, but not so close that he would scare him.  As the police officer climbed over the safety barrier, Mr Kennedy let go of the railing and fell heavily to the bitumen below the overpass.  This happened within seconds upon arrival of the police.

The police officers (one on foot and one in the police vehicle) went to where Mr Kennedy lay and commenced CPR.  An ambulance was called, arriving promptly at 5.37 am.  The St John Ambulance paramedics assessed Mr Kennedy and determined that his obvious injuries were incompatible with life.  He was pronounced dead at 5.46 am.

The State Coroner held an inquest, that was mandated because Mr Kennedy was a person held in care (being under or escaping from the control, care or custody of a member of the police). 

There was no recorded mental health history for Mr Kennedy.  Over time, Mr Kennedy had withdrawn from his extended family and wider circle of friends, confining his attentions to his family unit.  His partner knew there was something upsetting him, but he declined to seek medical attention for his increasing agitation and difficulty sleeping that he experienced shortly before his death.

The State Coroner commented on the actions of police.  She was satisfied that they were adequately trained to effectively communicate with a vulnerable person, but sadly, there was no time to commence employing their skills. 

The State Coroner was satisfied that the police response to the emergency was quick, and that there were no other steps the police officers could have taken to talk to Mr Kennedy because he almost immediately let go of the railing.  She was satisfied that the attending police officers acted promptly to call an ambulance and render first aid to him. 

The State Coroner was satisfied that when Mr Kennedy let go of the railing, it was a willed act on his part, with his intention being to take his life.  She found his manner of death was by way of suicide.

While being satisfied that, by the time police arrived, it was unlikely that any of their actions or interventions could have stopped his course, the State Coroner referred to the importance of maintaining hope and employing every reasonable method to try and save someone in that position.  The police did so in this situation.

Catch Words : Person held in care: Police Response : Mental Health Co-response Team : MHERL: Suicide

Last updated: 4-Apr-2024

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