THE family of a woman who died after jumping from an A40 overbridge believe her death could have been avoided if she was provided a place in rehab sooner.

Jessica Walker, 30, died after jumping from the Witney bridge on June 5 last year after struggling with alcoholism and mental health issues.

The cleaner was seen by a motorist walking in the middle of Stanton Harcourt Road at 9.45pm.

Help was offered to Ms Walker by the Good Samaritan but Ms Walker later jumped from the bridge.

The witness ran back to her car, calling 999 at 10pm.

READ MORE: No one to fix Abingdon monk statue: 'I get knocked down...but won't get up again'

Ms Walker was struck by a vehicle after jumping from the bridge and was pronounced dead at 10.22pm.

A post-mortem report ruled her cause of death as multiple injuries.

She was on a waiting list to attend a rehabilitation centre to help her detox from alcohol at the time of her death.

Speaking at a full inquest on Friday last week (13), her family stressed that if she had been given a placement sooner her death could have been avoided.

Her sister, Amy Kibbey, told the inquest: “I fully believe if she had a date for detox she wouldn’t have died. I’m absolutely devasted to have lost my sister.

“I will not let her memory be defined by how she died. The family feel there was a failure in the support network involved in her care.”

READ MORE: Housing development 'clearly not fire safe' but was signed off anyway

At the time of her death, Ms Walker was being treated by her GP, the Adult Mental Health Team (ADHT) in Witney, and Turning Point, an all-purpose drug and alcohol treatment service.

Turning Point, who carried out frequent welfare checks with Ms Walker, referred her to a rehabilitation centre but told the inquest it can take between four to six months for a placement.

When asked by Ms Kibbey why her sister wasn’t sectioned or found a placement sooner, Andrew Simmons, of Turning Point, told the inquest: “We did our best. We were aware she wanted to go in very quickly and we tried our best.

“She was struggling at the time and we were doing our best to get that [placement] through.”

Psychiatrist Matthew Taylor added that Ms Walker did not meet the criteria of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983.

During this time, Ms Walker had been prescribed quetiapine, which is a type of antipsychotic medicine, but was later taken off the tablets due to an attempted overdose after stockpiling, the inquest heard.

However, her family disagreed with a decision not to replace the medication.

Ms Kibbey said: “There were other ways her medication could have been managed rather than it being prescribed all at once.”

However, Dr Taylor said the medication was also stopped due to associated risks with alcohol consumption as well as the stockpiling problem and a replacement ‘was not necessary’.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham concluded the cause of Ms Walker’s death was suicide.

READ MORE: Silent auction of classic car in memory of young woman who died of cancer

He spoke of Ms Walker's difficult past, adding: "She had made previous attempts on her life.

"At the time of her death she was waiting the availability of a placement to help her with her alcohol dependency.

“It was not considered that she met the criteria for being sectioned. Considering all this, the appropriate finding is one of suicide.”

The Samaritans helpline is 116 123 which provides support to anyone in emotional distress 24 hours a day. 


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland