08.20.12 10:01 AM ET
Director Tony Scott’s Death Seen as Suicide After He Leaped From Bridge
The British filmmaker, who helmed the Tom Cruise hit Top Gun, parked his car, climbed a chain-link fence, and jumped to his death with ‘no hesitation,’ say Los Angeles police. Plus, Marlow Stern on the director’s legacy.
Top Gun director Tony Scott leaped to his death off a Los Angeles bridge on Sunday. According to police, a 911 caller reported that minutes before the 68-year-old British filmmaker committed suicide, he got out of his black Toyota Prius, climbed up a 10-foot-high chain-link fence, then jumped into the chilly, murky waters 185 feet below.
“There was no hesitation,” said Los Angeles Police Department officer David Shelton. “There was no negotiating him off the ledge.”
Scott, the younger brother of Sir Ridley Scott, the famed director of Alien and Blade Runner—jumped from the highest point of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which spans from the port city of San Pedro to Terminal Island, around 12:35 p.m. His car, parked on one of the eastbound lanes of the bridge, blocked traffic on the two-lane span until police had it towed.
It took close to three hours for divers from the Los Angeles port police and the Los Angeles Fire Department to find Scott’s body.
The L.A. Fire Department’s Armando Hogan said Coast Guard and fire department helicopters, as well as five fire department boats and two boats from the port of Los Angeles, using sonar aided in the search. Port police divers eventually located Scott’s body, which was found close to where he jumped, 60 feet below the surface. Hogan said they were able to pinpoint the location after “one of our boats spotted a pair of sneakers in the water.”
“He wasn’t too far from the area he jumped,” said Hogan. “He jumped from the equivalent of the top of the chain-link fence.”
According to news reports, law-enforcement officers found a suicide note in the director’s office.
The Vincent Thomas Bridge, the fourth-longest suspension bridge in California, is a relatively common spot for suicides, according to law-enforcement sources. “There are a number of them that go to the bridge,” said LAPD’s Shelton. ”Every few months.”
However, not all would-be jumpers end up taking the leap, he said. “They get up there and stand on the ledge, and someone will talk them down, but with this guy it was up and over, and he was gone.”
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday or Tuesday to determine whether Scott drowned or died on impact. “We don’t know,” said Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Joe Bale. “I would guess he died from impacting the water. We are investigating this as a suicide. There is no reason to believe it was anything else.”
Besides the hit Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun, Tony Scott also directed Beverly Hills Cop II, Enemy of the State, and the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. He had been coproducing Numb3rs and The Good Wife for CBS.
Shortly after 9 p.m., fellow director Ron Howard tweeted: “No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day.”