Was Canadian student Garrett Elsey crushed to death in bin lorry?
THE family of a Canadian student are coming to terms with the horrendous idea that their 22-year-old son may have been crushed to death in a bin lorry just hours after arriving in Bristol.
The Post can reveal that the man found dead at an Avonmouth recycling facility on Thursday was Garrett Elsey, above, who was about to begin a masters degree in international security at Bristol University.
It is believed the student from Alberta had been in Bristol for just a day and had been for a night out with a friend. Police are currently investigating how Mr Elsey ended up in a communal bin at an apartment block in Jacob's Wells Road, which was collected by a bin lorry and taken to the recycling facility run by New Earth Solutions.
The results of a post mortem, due to be made public today, are likely to help police trying to ascertain whether he was crushed to death while asleep or injured before being in the bin.
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The student's uncle, Brent Elsey, said the keen rugby player had only been in the UK a few hours when his body was found on Thursday.
Mr Elsey had recently completed a bachelor's degree in history and political science at Ottawa's Carleton University, and had written on Twitter about being excited about moving to Bristol to study for his postgraduate degree.
He arrived in Bristol on Wednesday, checked into his student residence and texted his parents to say all was well.
The airline had lost his luggage, he told his parents, so he picked up some toiletries to carry him through. Then he went out for the evening with a friend he used to play rugby with in Canada.
Mr Elsey's uncle said the friend was "devastated" by what had happened. He said the two parted ways sometime in the evening and Garrett never made it home.
Garrett's parents were contacted on Thursday by officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Police in Bristol had identified him with his passport, and the fingerprints he was required to give when he entered the country.
Brent Elsey paid tribute to his nephew and said his family has "many outstanding questions".
"He was always happy," he said. "He was a very hard worker. He always tried to do the best that he could. He was not afraid of any kind of challenge and was very successful at most of the things he put his hand to.
"He had been very successful both academically and athletically and was a young man who had worked hard, was well-recognised by his peers and coaches and teachers."
Residents at the Clifton apartment block were horrified by what had happened to the student.
Elizangela Santos, a 30-year-old cleaner who lives in one of the flats, said: "I came home from work and the police were here. It's a real shock."
Communal bins at Park Place, Clifton, and Brandon Villas, Hotwells, were also cordoned off for a time, but police were still investigating the communal bins store at Jacob's Building, next to West End car park at the top of Jacob's Wells Road, on Saturday morning.
A woman resident in one of the £250,000 flats said: "It was a complete shock, the circumstances are a bit concerning really."
Another resident in one of the 19 flats, who didn't wish to be named, simply said: "It's grim."
Sean Amato, a reporter following the story for CTV in Canada, told the Post the family were "totally overwhelmed" with the situation.
He said: "Garrett's uncle said that Garrett was going over to Bristol to start the next great adventure in his life. He has travelled to the UK before and liked it a lot. We understand that he even has friends over there.
"When his university friends in Ottawa found out what had happened they organised a gathering in a pub downtown. People went to say their goodbyes. There were a lot of tears and hugs."
Police spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: "We are keeping an open mind as to how this man died."
Peter Mills, operations director at New Earth Solutions, said: "We have withdrawn from the site to allow police to conduct their investigations."
UPDATE 11.30AM: Police have released a statement regarding the post-mortem examination.
"We have provisional findings, however further investigations need to take place in conjunction with the coroner," they have said.
"This may take time which means we cannot confirm cause of death at this stage."