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Tony Scott death: Witnesses describe director's bridge jump

August 21, 2012 |  6:10 pm

Investigators probing the death of “Top Gun” director Tony Scott said they still don’t know why he plunged from the Vincent Thomas Bridge on Sunday.

Law enforcement sources said several notes Scott left do not mention any health problems or offer solid clues about why he jumped. It's possible, the source said, that authorities might never make a clear determination of motive.

An autopsy was performed Monday. But as in many cases, the coroner said a final cause of death would not be determined until toxicology and other test results became available in several weeks.

Officials have not determined whether Scott had any health problems before he jumped off the San Pedro bridge but said family members have denied media reports that he was suffering from cancer.

“The family told us it is incorrect that he has inoperable brain cancer,” said Craig Harvey, a chief with the coroner's office.

Several people who were driving over the bridge when Scott jumped described witnessing what happened.

“He was on the roadway close to the fence looking around. He was looking around and fumbling with something at his feet. He looked nervous,”  David Silva told The Times.

Silva said he was a passenger in a car on the north side of the bridge and Scott was on the south side. Silva said Scott “paused a couple of seconds and then began to climb the fence. He put his foot on the top of the fence and paused again. And then he threw himself off. I immediately thought, that guy is dead.”

At first, Silva and other motorists thought the jump was an extreme-sports stunt. Then they realized the jumper didn't have a parachute or safety cord.

Silva said he called 911 immediately.

A Rancho Palos Verdes man who was driving across the bridge said the director appeared “determined” and “resolute.”

Eric Brill, 59, said he was returning home after visiting his mother in Laguna Woods when he spotted a man wearing multicolored clothing climbing one of the cables on the other side of the bridge. The man was “clambering up in a very strong way,” Brill said, something that confused him until he read later that Scott was an avid rock climber.

“It takes a while to register in your brain, because you're not used to seeing anything like this, and for a few seconds you think it’s some kind of mistake,” Brill said. “I looked more closely — perhaps it’s a maintenance man. But I knew very soon after that it wasn’t anyone doing maintenance.”

As Brill was about to drive past Scott, he said, the director “turned around, as if to see if someone was after him.”

“I could very, very clearly see his face,” Brill said. “He was very determined. He was not crying, he didn't look upset, he didn't look sad. He just looked very resolute.”

Brill said he had read accounts from witnesses describing him as nervous and fidgety.

“I didn't see that,” Brill said. “What I saw was a very determined guy.”

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--Richard Winton, Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein

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