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Tony Scott death: Director 'very methodical' before fatal jump, witness says

August 21, 2012 |  8:10 am

"Top Gun" director Tony Scott seemed to have planned out what he was going to do in the moments before he jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge, a witness said.

"He was very methodical. He knew what he planned to do," witness David Silva said in an interview with The Times. "He looked very fit. I cannot imagine that someone in his position would do something like that."

Silva said he was is passenger in a car on the bridge about 60 feet from Scott when he jumped. 

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"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," Silva said. "I thought it was some extreme sports guy."

Silva said the car he was riding in was on the north side of the bridge heading to Palos Verdes while Scott was on the south side.

Silva said Scott was wearing sporty orange and gray attire with shorts.

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Silva said he "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, he and other motorists thought it was an daredevil stunt. Then they realized the man didn't have a parachute or safety cord.

Silva said he called 911 immediately.

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Scott, 68, had just completed a new movie and there had been no public reports of health problems. But Los Angeles County coroner's officials said Monday's planned autopsy will look for signs of a serious health problem and will focus their investigation on that possibility.

ABC News reported that Scott suffered from brain cancer. Craig Harvey, a chief at the coroner's office, said authorities have heard that and other reports and are looking into them. He stressed, however, that the coroner has not formed any conclusions about what led to Scott's death.

The coroner's office said all evidence suggests Scott took his own life.

Scott left a suicide note at his office, law enforcement sources said, but police have not revealed what was in it. Harvey said Scott also left several "instructional" notes to family and friends.

Simon Halls, a spokesman for Scott's family, said the family asked "that their privacy be respected at this time."

Los Angeles police first learned of the incident after 12:30 p.m. from a 911 caller who said that an unidentified man had jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge, a suspension span that connects San Pedro and Terminal Island. It's a 185-foot fall from the bridge roadway to the waters of Los Angeles Harbor.

Authorities have been interviewing witnesses.

A source said officials looked inside the car and determined it belonged to the famed action-movie director and producer. A note in the car had contact information for his wife, and a suicide note was later found in his office, according to law enforcement sources. Its contents were not revealed.

His body was pulled out of the water several hours later by divers from the Los Angeles Port Police.

The coroner's office identified Scott on Sunday evening.

Scott was a respected director and producer who made "Man on Fire," "Enemy of the State" and "Beverly Hills Cop II."

The last film that he directed was "Unstoppable," a 2010 thriller about a runaway freight train.

His career in television included executive producing the series "The Good Wife" and "Numb3rs," both on CBS.

The British director, who lived in Beverly Hills, was best known for the 1986 hit "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise as a Navy aviator. The movie grossed $21.6 million in its first 11 days of release.

Scott was one of three sons born to working-class parents in northern England.

He established his career as a commercial director and continued to make television spots late into his career. Before becoming a filmmaker, Scott was a painter.

Distinguished by a kinetic visual style that aimed to take audiences into his high-octane action scenes, Scott also produced a number of blockbuster movies, most recently "Prometheus," directed by his brother Ridley Scott, and "The A-Team."

At the time of his death, he had recently completed filming on "Out of the Furnace," a drama he was producing about an ex-con starring Christian Bale. The movie is set to come out next year.

Scott was also preparing to produce a science-fiction drama called "Ion" and had served as executive producer on "Stoker," set to come out next March.

His debut feature, 1983's vampire movie "The Hunger," starred Catherine Deneuve and established Scott's cinematic style. He followed that movie with "Top Gun," which not only boosted the career of Cruise but also ushered in a series of Scott's action movies, which included "Days of Thunder," also starring Cruise, and "Crimson Tide," starring Denzel Washington.

Though his movies were consistent box-office hits, he rarely attracted critical praise and was never nominated for an Academy Award.

He was more successful with reviewers in television, however, for his work on "The Good Wife."

Scott was married three times and had twin sons with his third wife, actress and model Donna Wilson.


Tony Scott's death treated as suicide; autopsy planned

'Top Gun' director's family asks for privacy after his death

Witnesses saw Scott jump off Vincent Thomas Bridge, police say

-- Richard Winton