Investigation launched into death of patient who set himself alight in front of terrified onlookers

A “SERIOUS” investigation has begun into how a patient from a mental health centre in Redditch set fire to himself in front of terrified onlookers.

Gordon Hopkins, 46, a patient at Hill Crest Mental Health Unit, died as a result of his horrific injuries.

The incident happened on Thursday, April 19 at the junction of Woodrow Drive and Studley Road, near the health unit which provides in-patient care and treatment to mentally ill adults aged 18-65 as well as running a number of services.

The Advertiser received a number of calls from both concerned and terrified people saying that a man had set himself on fire.

Emergency services including the police and ambulance service also received calls and attended the scene at about 9.20am.

Seeing Mr Hopkins, from Edgeworth Close near Chruch Hill south, on fire a bus driver jumped out of his bus and tried to put the flames out with an fire extinguisher, while others came out of buildings also carrying fire extinguishers.

One witness, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It all happened so fast. There were ambulances, fire engines, buses lined up then all of sudden loads of police.

“At first I didn’t know what was going on but then it became clear what had happened.

“I just didn’t know what to think, you don’t expect something like this to happen - it was very traumatic.”

Mr Hopkins was taken to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital with serious burns to 90 per cent of his body but died that evening at 5pm.

Jan Ditheridge, from Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, which runs the Hill Crest Mental Health Unit, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news, and our immediate thoughts are now with his family.

“Clearly we need to fully understand what happened, and will undertake a serious incident investigation.”

The Worcestershire Coroner has been informed and an inquest will be held in due course.

Police, who thanked those witnesses who have already come forward with information, are still investigating the circumstances but not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident.

Anyone who witnessed this incident or feels affected by it can contact the ASSIST Trauma Care Helpline on 01788 560800 or visit assisttraumacare.org.uk

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