Clifton Suspension Bridge incident: Eyewitness tells of moment man ran off after dumping suitcases

-Credit: (Image: PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC)
-Credit: (Image: PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC)


A manhunt remains ongoing after human remains inside a suitcase were left on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The sickening discovery was made by staff at the bridge just before midnight on Wednesday night.

The staff had challenged a man dragging two suitcases on the bridge on the Leigh Woods side. He ran off when challenged, and is still on the run.

Police have launched a major investigation and the bridge has been closed. One eyewitness described the scene which unfolded from around 11.40pm, and said the man, who is being hunted by police ran off down Burwalls, the residential lane leading down to Rownham Hill. A major manhunt ensued, with the police helicopter involved, but police have still not found the man, as BristolLive reports.

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Bridge staff called police when the man left the suitcases and ran off, and officers arrived and immediately closed down the area. The police helicopter was sent up to scour the scene, but it is believed the man escaped into the woods between the bridge and Ashton Meadows.

Avon and Somerset Police have completely closed the Clifton Suspension Bridge to all traffic amid an ongoing investigation, Thursday, July 11. Forensic teams have been seen on the North Somerset side of the bridge and all roads and paths leading to the bridge crossing have been cordoned off.
Avon and Somerset Police have completely closed the Clifton Suspension Bridge to all traffic amid an ongoing investigation, Thursday, July 11. Forensic teams have been seen on the North Somerset side of the bridge and all roads and paths leading to the bridge crossing have been cordoned off. -Credit:BristolLive/Paul Gillis

“An immediate search of the area was carried out by officers on the ground with the support of the National Police Air Service and HM Coastguard following the discovery of the suitcases,” confirmed Vicks Hayward-Melen, the acting Bristol Commander for Avon and Somerset Police. “These searches remain ongoing.”

She added that police have established that the man arrived at the bridge in a taxi - which has been seized and the driver is helping police with their inquiries.

Police confirmed on Thursday lunchtime that they don’t yet know who the victim in the suitcases is, and haven’t yet found the man who ran off.

“This is a very disturbing incident and I fully recognise the concern it will be causing our communities,” said Vicks Hayward-Melen, the acting Bristol Commander for Avon and Somerset Police.

“The investigation is being led by our Major Crime Investigation Team and involves specialist officers and staff from across our organisation. Our immediate priority is to locate the man who took the suitcases to the bridge, identify the deceased and inform their next of kin. Specialist officers are ready to provide them with any support they need.”

“Specialist crime scene investigators are currently examining the bridge and surrounding area and the bridge will remain closed while these enquiries are conducted. A forensic post mortem examination will take place later today. There is currently an increased police presence in the area and anyone who has concerns is encouraged to speak to an officer,” she added.

-Credit:PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC
-Credit:PAUL GILLIS / Reach PLC

One eyewitness said the man who ran off was shouting in Spanish, as he was chased away from the scene. The man, who said he wished to remain anonymous, was out for a walk with his girlfriend across the bridge from the Leigh Woods side, when he saw a commotion ahead.

“There were two suitcases, one left on the bridge with what appeared to be blood leaking from it, the other case was on the road just after the bridge on the Leigh Woods side,” he said.

“There was blood on the floor along the bridge. The man who had the cases ran from the bridge staff and I saw him being chased by a member of the public on a bike - he was shouting something in Spanish.

“The cyclist followed the man, who was wearing a dark or black clothing, and was seen running down Burwalls,” he added.

Police are appealing to anyone with any information to call 101, quoting reference number 5224180010.