A LABOURER texted his girlfriend to say “I can’t hack it”, before plunging over a motorway bridge to his death, an inquest heard.
Matthew Kiernan’s desperate girlfriend Kerry Patrick replied “I love you so much”, but the message arrived about a minute after he hit the carriageway of the M18 motorway in South Yorkshire.
CCTV footage showed the 20-year-old jumping over the railings and landing on the motorway at Bramley, Rotherham, where he was struck by a car.
A few days previously he had been diagnosed with mild depression after visiting his doctor and a counselling session had been arranged.
Miss Patrick told the inquest that he had not sought help for his low moods as he wanted to join the Army and thought that it would harm his chances.
The couple had been drinking and dancing at the Pop nightspot in Rotherham when Mr Kiernan left alone in the early hours after appearing to be in a “strange” mood.
The couple texted each other and Miss Patrick asked what was wrong.
She cried as she told the hearing: “He said he loved me but he couldn’t hack it any more.
“He always used to say things like he couldn’t be bothered any more. I texted him back saying ‘I love you so much’ but it was too late.”
She said he “didn’t seem himself” at the nightclub that evening, and added: “I asked him what was wrong but he just said ‘nothing’.
Mr Kiernan, a popular steelworks labourer who lived with his parents at Austen Drive in Bramley, Rotherham, had lost a close friend a few years before and hated his job.
Asked by Rotherham coroner Nicola Mundy why she thought he jumped off the bridge, Miss Patrick replied: “I never in a million years thought he would do something like that.”
On the evening before he died, Mr Kiernan called his girlfriend to say that one of his friend’s brothers had committed suicide just a few days previously.
Nicholas Loasby, a friend of Mr Kiernan’s who was drinking with him, said: “When he found out about the suicide I remember him saying he thought it was a selfish thing to do.”
Mr Kiernan’s father Brian said: “I didn’t see it coming. He had his ups and downs but there was nothing serious.
“For this to happen was a bolt out of the blue. He had a girlfriend, some fantastic friends and a good family.
“But he always kept his thoughts to himself. Trying to get things out of him was difficult.”
Mr Kiernan had been to see a doctor on December 18, last year and told the GP that he was in a low mood and had been like that for several years. Counselling had been arranged for January 10, but he died on December 29.
Pathologist Professor John Lee said Mr Kiernan suffered a serious head injury and fractures in the fall from 28 feet but it “may have been survivable”.
He believed Mr Kiernan was unconscious when he was hit by a Ford Fiesta travelling at 70mph on the unlit section of motorway. The cause of death was given as multiple injuries.
Ms Mundy recorded a narrative verdict and said the car driver had no chance of avoiding Mr Kiernan in the road. “There was no plan here, it was a spur of the moment act,” she said.
Following the inquest, Mr Kiernan’s father said: “We’re missing him beyond belief. We will never understand why.”