Eyewitness says man ran off after dumping body in suitcases at Clifton Suspension Bridge

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: (Image: BristolLive/Paul Gillis)

An eyewitness has described the moment staff at Clifton Suspension Bridge found human remains inside a suitcase left by a man who fled the scene. An eyewitness said that the suspect was chased by a cyclist but managed to escape.

The discovery occurred just before midnight on Wednesday, July 10, when bridge workers confronted a man hauling two suitcases from Leigh Woods onto the bridge. He bolted when they approached him and is currently being sought by authorities. Keep up to date on the story with our live blog here

A full-scale investigation has been launched and the bridge has been shut down. According to one witness, the drama began around 11.40pm, with the man fleeing down Burwalls, a lane leading to Rownham Hill. Despite a large-scale search involving a police helicopter, the suspect remains at large.

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One witness said that the fleeing individual was yelling in Spanish as he was pursued from the area. The man, who requested anonymity, was crossing the bridge from Leigh Woods with his girlfriend when they encountered the unsettling scene, reports Bristol Live.

"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 dark or black clothing, and was seen running down Burwalls," he added.

When the individual abandoned the suitcases and fled, bridge personnel alerted the authorities, and police sealed off the area. A police helicopter was deployed to search the area, but the suspect is thought to have vanished into the woodland that lies between the bridge and Ashton Meadows.

Police cordon at the Clifton Suspension Bridge
The man linked to the incident has yet to be found -Credit:Tristan Cork/BristolLive

"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 investigations have revealed the man reached the bridge via a taxi - now impounded - with the driver currently assisting the police with their investigation. As of Thursday afternoon, police have yet to identify the victim found in the suitcases and are still searching for the man seen fleeing the scene.

"This is a very disturbing incident and I fully recognise the concern it will be causing our communities," the commander added.

"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 continued.

Police are urging anyone with information to come forward and call 101, quoting reference number 5224180010.