Dad said ‘I’m sorry’ before jumping into path of truck

Michael Garfin, of Chorley, killed on M6, June 26, 2011
Michael Garfin, of Chorley, killed on M6, June 26, 2011

A mother-of-two broke down in tears as she recalled her husband’s final words before he jumped into the path of a lorry on the motorway.

Michael Garfin, 39, told wife Kirsty: “I’m so sorry” on the hard shoulder of the M6.

Minutes earlier, he had taken off his seatbelt while driving the family car north in the fast lane at around 70 or 80mph, and veered across three lanes just past Charnock Richard services, between Chorley and Leyland.

Mrs Garfin said: “He was sweating and being quite incoherent with what he was saying.

“I asked him to pull the car over and that I would drive. He point blank refused.

“He was rubbing his head and he was rubbing my leg and he said that everything was going to be okay and he knew what he had to do.”

His Audi A4 estate, with his wife and two young daughters on board, uprooted a lamppost and snapped a tree, spinning 180 degrees and coming to rest down an embankment.

Mrs Garfin and his daughters suffered minor injuries in the crash.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court on Monday heard how football fan Mr Garfin had been admitted to hospital 24 days before his death on June 26 this year due to “increasing concerns about his safety” because of mental health problems.

But deputy coroner Simon Jones said he needed more information about what was discussed during a meeting between Mr Garfin and health professionals the day after he left hospital on June 16, during which it was agreed to end Mr Garfin’s daily home care package.

Mrs Garfin said: “I should have questioned it more, I know that now, but I think I was so happy. I didn’t question it.”

The inquest heard how Mr Garfin had been suffering from mental health problems caused by stress and difficulty sleeping.

On the day he died, he was travelling with his wife and daughters, Laura, now four and Katie, now three, and his Alsatian dog, Weiss, to his sister’s in Atherton, near Leigh.

But he changed his mind, Mrs Garfin told the court, and said he wanted to return to the family’s former home in Buckshaw Village.

Mrs Garfin said her husband was “very agitated” and took his seatbelt off before putting it back on.

She said: “I screamed and said please don’t, please don’t do this. He said I’m not going to, I’m only joking.”

She said he went into a ‘trance’ before removing the belt again and driving off the road.

Choking back tears, Mrs Garfin said: “I said ‘please don’t do anything else’ and he said . . . he just said ‘I’m so sorry’ and that’s all we said to each other.”

It was initially thought Mr Garfin had run into the road to rescue his dog but witnesses saw him ‘jump’ in front of an empty milk tanker driven by David Dickman.

He said: “I’ve just seen this guy come off the grass then he started running towards me. It happened that quick.

“It was horrible. He ran at me and then jumped up. I didn’t have time to do anything.”

Mrs Garfin has since left the area. The hearing is due to resume next Tuesday.