A PATIENT escaped from a Runcorn mental health unit and vaulted off a bridge in front of a coach, an inquest at Warrington heard on Thursday.

Colin Doyle, aged 44, had jumped out of a window at the Brooker Centre, a year earlier, and walked home to Whitchurch Way, Halton Lodge.

Self-employed Mr Doyle, who ran an ironing services business, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for 20 years, and was mostly treated at home with medication.

Witnesses spotted him climbing over the railings above the A533 Whitehouse Expressway, shortly before 9am, on Tuesday, June 29, 2010.

Timothy Burn, a head teacher from Maghull, was heading to a course at The Holiday Inn, when he noticed a man jogging towards the flyover.

He said: “I saw him emerge along the bridge with great gusto. He put both hands on the bar. He threw his legs up and over and dropped down.”

Coach driver, Barry Critchley, from St Helens, was driving to a local school, when he was suddenly distracted.

He said: “I heard a big thud on the left hand side of the windscreen. It was only when I stopped I realised it was a person.”

A post mortem confirmed Mr Doyle died from multiple injuries.

Maurice Jones, a vehicle examiner for Cheshire Police, found no evidence of any defects on the coach.

PC Steve Binns, a collision investigator for Cheshire Police reconstruced the incident.

He said: “The coach driver reacted very quickly, in 1.08 seconds or less after the collision, but was unable to avoid him. He was travelling at 52mph.

Registered psychiatric nurse Lisa Weaving, Mr Doyle’s care co-ordinator, gave him an injection at home on June 14.

She said: “He and his wife were looking forward to attending their daughter’s graduation.

“There was no evidence of low mood.”

Diane Doyle, aged 45, said her husband’s firm was flourishing.

She said: “He was a very intelligent man. We decided to expand on the internet.

“He was a little bit stressful. He wasn’t sleeping.

“I could tell by his eyes and facial expression that something was wrong.

“He was very quiet and followed me everywhere.”

She took him to The Brooker Centre the day before he died.

Deputy ward manager, Louise Essex, carried out a search as soon as the alarm was raised.

She said new windows had been fitted and the acute ward is now locked.

Cheshire Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded a narrative verdict.

He said: “At the time of his death, Colin Doyle was acutely mentally disturbed and is unlikely to have possessed rational judgement. ”