‘Amazing’ Nailsea man died after being hit by train, inquest told

Max McGhee – 'a kind, compassionate, funny and intelligent man'.

Max McGhee – 'a kind, compassionate, funny and intelligent man'. - Credit: Archant

The family of a Nailsea man who was killed jumping in front of a train say the ‘world is less bright without him’.

Max McGhee, aged 23, died after he was struck by a train at Nailsea & Backwell Railway Station in March.

However, coroner Peter Harrowing at an inquest into Max’s death today (Wednesday) ruled it was impossible ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ to know whether he intended to kill himself, despite the 23-year-old’s history of mental health problems and suicidal thoughts.

Parents John and Dawn McGhee have set up a charitable foundation in Max’s memory and said: “Our amazing son Max was a kind, compassionate, funny and intelligent man who we miss deeply.

“He showed great strength and determination throughout his life and we were lucky to love him for 23 years.

“As one of his friends recently said, ‘perhaps now is an appropriate time to reflect on how we approach mental wellbeing to protect the lives of brilliant people like Max. The world is less bright without him’.”

Max, of Nailsea Park, had been diagnosed with autism and the inquest at Avon Coroner’s Court, in Flax Bourton, was told it had led to some social difficulties in his life.

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The former Backwell School pupil went to university in Edinburgh, but following a deterioration in his mental wellbeing, he threatened to kill himself and he had to be sectioned in April 2016.

He received treatment from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust in Weston-super-Mare and over a number of months his health changed for the better.

Such was the improvement, professionals advised Max to stop taking his medication in January.

The inquest was told that had no obvious negative impact on Max’s improving health – in fact he had been discussing starting a mathematics-based course at a new university and had been working at a charity shop in his spare time.

However, in March his health began to decline slightly, with him reporting bouts of paranoia.

On the morning of March 28, CCTV showed Max get off a train at Nailsea & Backwell which had come from the direction of Yatton – his family do not know where he had been as he was at home in Nailsea when they went to work.

After spending some minutes on the platform, shortly before 11.15am, he jumped in front of a train travelling between Plymouth and Aberdeen.

Dr Harrowing concluded: “I have heard evidence that he was standing on the platform and appeared to deliberately jump, or step, in the front of a fast-moving train.

“He died instantly – the medical cause of death is multi-trauma.”

Dr Harrowing said while he understood Max had expressed ‘suicidal ideation’ in the past, the former student’s wellbeing and feelings had generally improved significantly in the run up to his death to the extent he was talking positively about the future and his education.

He added: “I’m not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Max’s death was as a result of suicide.”

His parents are determined to use Max’s life to help others in future.

They said: “Max had atypical autism which manifested itself through a communication disorder.

“His struggle with communication in everyday life led to a stress overload and ultimately psychosis.

“His name and legacy will live on in the Max McGhee Memorial Fund which will raise funds to promote early diagnosis of psychosis and autism spectrum disorders.”

His brother Jack created an online fundraising page in Max’s memory, and has raised more than £2,000.

* The Samaritans runs a free helpline for anyone requiring support and it can be accessed on 116123.