Family of 81-year-old who died on the roadside face further heartache
PUBLISHED: 08:32 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:29 31 December 2019
The family of an 81-year-old who was sent more than 250 miles away for mental health treatment and then died on the roadside have faced further heartache after being unable to plan her funeral.
Peggy Copeman died on Monday, December 16, on the side of the M11 from a suspected heart attack while being transported from Taunton to Norfolk.
Her body remains at the Queen Alexandria Hospital in Harlow, and her family says they are still waiting for a post mortem to be carried out before she can be released.
Her son in law Nick Fulcher, from North Lopham, said it was 'pretty devastating'.
He said: "It's horrible. Peggy is still in Harlow, three counties away.
"It's been a very hard Christmas knowing Peggy is that far away. We want to get her this way as she shouldn't still be there.
"We know nothing at all which is heart breaking.
"We cannot arrange anything, the funeral director cannot arrange anything."
Essex Coroner's Office confirmed it is communicating with the family.
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Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust (NSFT) has provided a family liaison officer who has been in contact with the family and made a visit to them.
Mr Fulcher has spoken with the trust's chief medical officer Dr Dan Dalton and will meet with him in January.
He said: "It's a long way off."
The married pensioner, from New Buckenham, began suffering from severe mental ill health for several weeks but because there was a shortage of places in this region, she was sent to a specialist hospital in Taunton on December 13.
On Monday, December 16, a private ambulance picked her up after a bed was found in Julian House in Norwich.
Mrs Copeman is believed to have become distressed four hours into the journey, resulting in her to stop breathing and she later died.
Since this paper broke the story of Mrs Copeman's death, the family's story has gone national as they say she should have been sent to Taunton in the first place.
NSFT says investigations are still continuing and are working with Cygnet Health Care, the Taunton hospital where she was sent. A family liaison officer is working with the family.
An NSFT spokesman previously said: "We are very sorry about Mrs Copeman's death and our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.
"Our trust will be working with Cygnet Health Care to investigate the circumstances and we will keep the family informed."
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