A woman tried to speak with a teenager holding onto the railings of the bridge and was unable to help as she let go and fell to her death.
Grace Fyfe, 17, who was described as a ‘happy, smiling’ teenager, drowned after she fell from the railings on the Humber Bridge in the early hours of March 29.
The teenager, who had dreamed of becoming a drama teacher, sent a loving message to her mum just minutes before her death.
An inquest into the incident in Hull heard from a number of Grace’s friends and family, as well as a member of staff working at the bridge the day of the incident who saw Grace and tried to speak to her before she tragically fell and died.
The female member of staff said that when she initially approached Grace she said she was simply ‘getting in her 10,000 steps’.
She had tried to start a conversation with her but Grace just walked away.
The worker was patrolling the bridge on the morning of the accident and explained how staff are always present in patrol vehicles on either side of the bridge, often driving up and down.
She told the inquest: “I was at the south side when I noticed a female in the road on the bridge.
“I approached her and asked her what she was doing out at this time and she told me she was getting in her 10,000 steps. I encouraged her to stay and talk to me but she was adamant she was going and walked away and down the slip road.
“I’m always concerned when someone is out at that time but she seemed very convincing. Normally, people will avoid eye contact or break down if they are in crisis, but she was calm and maintained eye contact.
“If we are concerned we tend to ask directly if they are planning to take their own life and they are then often relieved they can talk about it and then we can call for help.”
Just an hour later, she received a call from control saying there was a female on the Humber Bridge walkway near the railings. She said: “I quickly arrived and asked her to come and talk to me.
“But she was already over the railing and said nothing before letting go and falling over the edge. That was the first time I had witnessed anything like that directly in my 28-years doing this job.”
A post-mortem found that despite falling from a height, Grace had suffered no traumatic or fatal injuries but died from drowning, the inquest heard.
Her body was recovered by two police officers close to the Country Park Inn at Hessle Foreshore.
Grace’s death was one of a number of fatal incidents at Humber Bridge in the months of February and March this year which led to a debate about the safety of the bridge and whether adequate safety measures were in place.
The bridge was subsequently closed to pedestrians for more than a month.
Kerry Young, Grace’s mum, also spoke at the inquest, reading out a statement where she described her daughter’s courageous nature, but how she had suffered a vicious attack at the hands of a group of teenage girls that had left her subdued and suffering anxiety.
Ms Young said: “Grace spoke her own mind. She had many friends and she would always stick up for them. Grace fought for what she believed in and she had a heart of gold.
“While she could sometimes be a nightmare she always tried to help. There was a girl at school being bullied and she helped her. Grace loved drama and she wanted to be a drama teacher.”
Ms Young continued on to describe the incident that drastically affected her daughter: “Grace was attacked by two girls who pulled her hair and threw a milkshake at her before punching and kicking her until she passed out.
“The attack changed Grace. She refused to go back to school and it took a long time to get over the attack. She wouldn’t even leave the house. She had otherwise been a happy, smiling teenager.”
Grace left school after her GCSEs and had begun studying to become a hairdresser at Hull College.
But not long after, she decided to drop out of the course and move in with her dad and found a new job in 2019. However, she then lost this job due to the pandemic and had recently managed to get another.
Grace’s mum recalled the last time she saw her daughter on Mother’s Day this year when Grace had visited her with a card and present.
Ms Young said: “She told me she loved me forever and always and thanked me for everything. On the day she died, she sent me a text at 4.20am which said she loved me forever and always and she was sorry. Not long after, the police told me Grace had jumped from the Humber Bridge.”
A number of Grace’s friends who were either with her or heard from her on the evening before her incident also made statements at the inquest. That night, Grace had friends over to her home where they were drinking vodka cocktails.
Grace’s boyfriend had also visited later on in the evening and it was claimed that an argument broke out between the two. She then rang a friend and spoke to her for over an hour.
One of Grace’s friends who was a few years older than her, who she had met while working at a takeaway, also presented a statement to the court.
She said: “Grace looked on me as like a big sister. That night she called and said her on-off boyfriend and his friend had turned up and she wanted him to leave. She sounded a bit drunk.
“We spoke for an hour and, while she was upset, she never mentioned any mental health issues. I knew she suffered from anxiety but I never thought she was thinking about committing suicide.”
Tragically, in the early hours of the morning before Grace’s accident, she had made a number of calls to this friend who hadn’t answered at the time.
Grace had also left a voicemail which her friend only discovered after her death: “Thank you for everything and you have been nothing but the absolute best friend. I cannot be here anymore and I’m sorry. I love you”.
Grace’s boyfriend also made a statement, explaining how his girlfriend had appeared drunk that evening and despite the fight, they had “seemed to sort everything out”. However, Grace had later asked him and his friend to leave her house at around 2.20am.
Later, he received a text from a friend to say Grace was heading towards the Humber Bridge and he tried to get a taxi to go and see her but he could not get one for an hour.
He said: “Grace often liked going for walks by herself and that’s what I thought she was doing that night. I never thought she would do anything like this. I couldn’t believe Grace had passed away.”