POLICE have launched an investigation after a man dropped a three-year-old girl from a bridge into a river in an apparent attempted murder suicide.

Police were called to Crompton Way just after 8.30pm yesterday after reports a 39-year-old man was stood on a bridge threatening to drop a child into the River Tonge.

Specially trained police negotiators attended and an operation was put in place to rescue the child from the river should she fall.

The man refused to speak to officers and dropped the child into the water which was approximately 30 feet below.

The Bolton News:

View of police operation from Cineworld car park 

An officer was already in the river and was able to reach the child shortly after she entered the water and she was carried to safety. She was taken to hospital with a broken wrist.

The man then fell from the bridge into the water. Officers were able to reach him quickly and he was taken out of the water and taken to hospital. He sustained minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. This evening he has been released under investigation.

The Bolton News:

Police arrest the man 

The Bolton News:

Joiner, Stephen Lomax, heard the commotion from Cineworld car park in The Valley near Astley Bridge.

He said: “I heard shouts and screaming, the man had a deep growl. The little girl must have been terrified.”

The Bolton News:

Mr Lomax, aged 34, of Great Lever, said that following the rescue from the river, police took the man to Cineworld car park where they waited for an ambulance.

There, he heard the man ask if the child was ok.

Neighbours tell of heartbreak of father who dropped child 30ft off bridge

Mr Lomax had been driving down Crompton Way towards Astley Bridge when he was turned back at the police cordon. He saw police arrive at the Cineworld car park and head towards the river with torches for the rescue operation. 

GMP said a voluntary referral to the IPCC has been made.

Superintendent Paul Savill, from GMP’s Bolton borough said: “Thankfully the little girl will recover from her physical injuries, but the trauma she was put through is heart breaking. My thoughts are with her and he family.

“We have arrested a man on suspicion of attempted murder, he will be questioned by police at the earliest opportunity.

“We have a specialist team of negotiators who always try their utmost to resolve these situations without injury and get people the support they need. Sadly on this occasion the man failed to engage, however we had a second team waiting in the water to enable us to rescue the child within seconds of her entering the water.

The Bolton News:

“We will now ensure that the little girl and her family have all the support going forward, to help her make a full recovery.”

A witness has told of his horror after driving past the scene and seeing the man dangling his legs over the side of the bridge with the three-year-old on his lap.

Simon Hartshorn, 50, said: "I was passing at around half eight last night following my friend in a car.

"I saw a cop car, an officer, a pram and the man sat on the bridge with his arms around a young girl.

"I said to my friend it looks like he has got a young child on him when I got to his house.

"An hour or two later I was making my way home when I spotted all of the roads blocked off.

"There was so many police officers and cars blocking the roads off and dealing with it.

"I was only told this morning that he has jumped."

An employee from a cinema located just yards from the scene spoke of confusion and fear of the staff during the horrific incident.

The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Loads of police and ambulances turned up last night.

"We didn't know what was happening and our supervisors were running around to try and work out what was going on.

"One of the policemen explained the situation and told us not to go round the back and into that area.

"I have seen on the news this morning that the girl has survived but I don't know how, the bridge is so high."

"I can't believe they both survived, I know they have injuries but what has the kid done, nothing.

"What he should have done was give the kid to the police, he should not have taken an innocent child with him."

Residents living close to the scene told how they thought there had been a car crash on the road, described as an accident black spot. Local residents expressed shock at what had happened.

One man said: "The road was closed and people had to be diverted, I thought there had been another crash."

A woman living close to the bridge said: "Everyone was upset, children were playing in the street and could see it. It was upsetting.
"People had come out of their houses. We could see the police, it is a wonder the little girl wasn't killed in the fall.
"There are rocks down there and rats.
“It just makes you want to hold your own children even closer."

Another woman who works nearby said: "A lot of people are saying a lot of things but there needs to be more investment in mental health, there is just nothing to help.

A man who lives near to the bridge added: "It is shocking, I didn't realise what had happened until the morning. I couldn’t believe it.”
The road was cordoned off from near Hall i'th' Wood to Seymour Road, Astley Bridge until after midnight.