According to a hearing at Croydon Coroner's Court in Croydon, U.K., Donna Oettinger, 41, was suffering from severe anxiety when she laid down on a railroad, cradling her 3-year-old son, in south London on March 22, 2013. They were struck by a London-bound train and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Oettinger committed suicide with her son, Zaki, in her arms in March 2013 by lying down on train tracks, Mirror reports.
Train driver Patrick Cusak said in a statement: "She jumped down, I think she almost rolled over to cuddle the child. She had a gentle arm, a consoling arm around the child."
At a recent inquest into the deaths of Oettinger and the 3-year-old, it was found that Oettinger had a long history of mental health issues.
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Oettinger's severe anxiety reportedly started when she stopped using cocaine in the spring of 2012, after she visited Zaki's father, Mohammed El Shaer, in Egypt. She then allegedy sought the help of mental health professionals in September 2012, but her family learned that it would take 18 months for her to receive therapy.
Oettinger's mother, Carol Oettinger, said during the inquest, "I wanted to take her to see somebody so there could be some reassurance that she hadn't damaged herself, that there were possibilities of her getting better."
Oettinger struggled at work, eventually having to leave her job, and had difficulty caring for her son.
"She wanted to get better," Carol said. "I looked after Zaki, even though Donna was ill she would give him a kiss in the morning and at night when he went to bed."
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In October 2012, Oettinger became suicidal and threatened to throw herself under a train while she and Carol were on a shopping trip. On two other occasions, she threatened to kill herself with a knife.
In December 2012, Oettinger tried to commit suicide by overdosing on her anti-anxiety medication and Paul Willison, a social worker, recommended “intensive home therapy.” After agreeing to the treatment, she was deemed “not treatable” and returned to Croydon.
Willison believed there was a home treatment team in Croydon, but Carol was told otherwise by a psychiatric nurse.
"We said Donna had just come out of intensive care, Paul Willison had faxed his concerns through saying she needed urgent treatment," Carol told the court. "She said 'we didn't do urgent treatment here.'"
Dr. Hemanth Rao, Oettinger’s psychiatrist, said there was nothing he could do to help her.
The hearing is ongoing.