Man died after falling from bridge before colliding with lorry

A “much-loved” fiancé died after falling from a bridge before being hit by an HGV, an inquest heard.

Michael Fernott died after being hit by a lorry after falling onto the A449 near Catsash in Newport in December 2018.

An inquest at Newport Coroner’s Court on Thursday heard that cocaine was found in the 34-year-old’s blood and he had previously sought help for his addiction.

Michael Fernott's family have said he will remain in their hearts
Michael Fernott’s family have said he will remain in their hearts
(Image: Gwent Police)

The inquest heard that after Mr Fernott fell onto the carriageway on December 18, one HGV managed to swerve around his body but he was hit by a second HGV following behind.

Evidence from the first HGV driver, Stephen Wilson, was read to the court. He stated he was travelling at around 55mph along the southbound carriageway, and as he approached he saw “something fall” from the footbridge shortly after midnight.

He managed to swerve around Mr Fernott before coming to stop, adding “it all happened so quickly”. Mr Wilson left his vehicle and after realising it was a body he called the emergency services.

Evidence from Mr Fernott’s fiance Vicky Hutchings was also read at the inquest. Her statement said that in March 2017, Mr Fernott was found in the disabled toilet at his workplace “surrounded by needles” and unconscious.

She added they moved to Newport for a “new life”, but Mr Fernott, originally from Bristol, relapsed again in December 2017.

She said: “He said he once came around standing on the edge of a bridge in Bristol and didn’t know how he ended up there.”

In the days before his death, Ms Hutchings said her partner seemed in “high spirits” and added they spoke several times in the hours before the incident.

At around 5pm Mr Fernott said he was leaving work and would be home at around 7.30pm. But when Ms Hutchings spoke to him at around 9.30pm she became “anxious” when he described still being stuck in traffic near Newport.

She left to search for Mr Fernott and came across the emergency services at the scene, telling officers she was concerned for the welfare of her partner.

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Mr Fernott’s car was found around a 10-minute walk from the footbridge unlocked with the keys still in the ignition.

In a tribute previously released through Gwent Police, his family said: “Michael was a much-loved fiancé, son, brother and father, who will be missed every single day by his family and friends.

“He brought joy and laughter to everyone who knew him and his loss leaves us with an enormous hole in our lives. The first to offer support to those who needed it and with a smile for everyone, Michael will remain in our hearts always.”

The inquest heard from Gwent Police forensic collision investigator Dean Burnett who attended the scene. He told the inquest that it was not possible to accidentally fall over the railings on the footbridge, adding the drop was around seven metres.

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Mr Burnett said it was a “reasonable assumption that any drug-taking may have had an impact on his decision making”.

A post-mortem found that Mr Fernott had multiple injuries and “significant internal” injuries. No alcohol was found in his system but tests detected the presence of cocaine at 22mg p/ml.

The inquest heard that in April 2018 Mr Fernott had attended Gwent Drug and Alcohol Services as he had been “injecting cocaine and wanted help”.

Senior coroner Caroline Saunders said recorded a narrative conclusion. A cause of death was recorded as “1a multiple injuries caused by 1b trauma” and a contributory factor of “cocaine use”.

Ms Saunders said: “He had a history of taking cocaine. Despite repeated attempts to abstain, he had a tendency to relapse.”

She added “it is not clear” why Mr Fernott decided to climb over the footbridge barrier.

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