A Sydney student reportedly experienced a cannabis-induced psychosis when led to her being fatally injured when she slipped from a police officer’s grasp and plunged 10 metres headfirst onto a road.
Grace Herington, 23, was chased by police and fell off a road ramp in Sydney’s lower north shore, just hours after being discharged from hospital.
Although her death occurred during a police operation, State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan stated in inquest findings that the police has taken the “appropriate action in the circumstances”.
Grace has been described as a beautiful, generally happy young woman and a loyal friend. Although the majority of her class moved on to Sydney University alongside her in 2015, the young woman began to feel isolated from her peers.
Throughout her studies, she became stressed and in October began suffering persistent headaches.
At the end of 2016, Grace’s family said that she suffered from a “breakdown”. She was prescribed melatonin and given special consideration for her poor exam results.
Despite this, the student then went on to experiment with cannabis and LSD in 2017.
By the end of 2018, she continued to receive low exam results and her brother said that her behaviour was becoming somewhat erratic.
On December 15 of that year, Grace was smoking cannabis with a friend when she began to experience hallucinations.
Three days later, her parents received a bizarre call in which she said she had “stopped 9/11, but I didn’t kill [a named person]”.
Folllowing this call, Grace entered hospital as a voluntary patient and after an assessment, it was concluded that she “did not display suicidality, wasn’t aggressive or overly agitated, and had indicated she would see her psychologist the next day” and she was then discharged.
After returning to Hunters Hill unit where she lived alongside her brother, Grace’s behaviour continued to be unusual which prompted him to call the emergency services.
Once Grace was aware of this she escaped out of a window in the residence and the paramedics tailed her movement. Shortly after this, the police arrived and took over.
According to Senior Constable Timothy Shields, the student was screaming and running erratically towards a road.
Grace then “climbed over a guard rail, lay down along a low cyclone fence and then tipped over the edge”. In an attempt to pull her to safety, Senior Constable Shields gripped onto her leg.
However, as she was swinging her body it made it difficult for the officer to hold onto her and she fell onto the road below.
In the hospital, it was revealed that her death was caused by multiple blunt force injuries. Ms O’Sullivan described it as a “tragic end to a young and promising life”.