Missing woman is found dead on railway line after huge police search
A woman who went missing from a psychiatric unit has been found dead on a railway line, police said yesterday.
The 36-year-old, who was reported missing in Exeter on Thursday, was found by tracks in Chard, Somerset, at around 2.30pm the same day.
Her death is not being treated as suspicious.
Originally from Honiton, the woman was a patient at the Cedars unit of the Wonford House Hospital in Exeter – criticised in the past for alleged lax supervision of patients.
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Devon and Cornwall Police said a large-scale search of the area was completed by all available officers, including dog teams and the police helicopter, without success.
A British Transport Police spokesman said its officers were called to the scene one mile from Chard Junction after an accident involving the 11.20am London Waterloo to Exeter St David's train.
"Paramedics also attended and the body of a woman, believed to be in her 30s, was discovered at the scene with injuries consistent with being hit by a train," she said.
A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which runs the Cedars, said it was examining the circumstances of the woman's disappearance.
"This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are very much with the family at this time," he said. "We have spoken with them today and have offered to meet with them in due course to discuss the matter further."
In 2002 three voluntary psychiatric patients at the Cedars died after jumping from a cliff top in Sidmouth.
An inquest in 2004 heard claims that the unit was "run like a hotel" with patients having access to drink and drugs. In April 2007, Emma Manser killed her son Ryan, four, days after being deemed fit to leave the unit. Ms Manser, 24, who suffered from schizophrenia, also stabbed her mother five times after smothering her son.
No blame was attached to the unit or Devon Partnership NHS Trust for the death.