‘Courageous’ police officers have been praised after struggling to save a man who died falling from a motorway bridge at Pease Pottage.
Louis Perrina, 46, of Hepplewhite Close, Crawley, smoked his ‘last cigarette’ on the narrow ledge over the M23, on November 13, 2014, before leaning backwards and letting go of the railings.
At a jury inquest into his death, held at Parkside in Horsham on August 11, police officers explained how they held on to his arms and his clothes, pleading with Mr Perrina to climb back over.
PC Paul Bubb, who was called to the scene, said: “With the four of us attempting to pull him up his jumper slipped off and he fell down on to the carriageway.”
Mr Perrina, who was believed to weigh about 17 stone, ‘pulled away’ from the struggling officers, pushing his legs against the bridge and shouting ‘let me go’.
A statement by Sergeant Iain MacNab, who also on the bridge, was read to the court.
It said: “He calmly said ‘I’m going to go now, I’m going to fall down’. It was difficult leaning over the barrier to keep hold of him. He was pushing himself backwards with extreme force. It was an extremely harrowing incident.”
Former boxer Chris Eubank arrived at the scene while officers were trying to talk to Mr Perrina, but was escorted away.
Mireille Perrina, Louis’ wife, said: “He was a family man who was always very caring.”
Recording a conclusion of suicide, the jury said Mr Perrina ‘resisted all attempts to save his life’. Penelope Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, commended the officers and said they acted in a ‘selfless and courageous’ way.
She added: “It is in my view that Sussex Police should be very proud of the way they acted that night.”