Caledonian Hilton Hotel horror at five star suicide shocker

By Christine Lavelle

UPDATED: RUSH hour commuters watched on in horror as a woman leapt around 80ft to her death from the top floor of one of Scotland’s most famous five star hotels.

The 30-year-old – believed to have been an American business woman – jumped to her death from the prestigious Caledonian Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh.

Morning commuters craned their neck in disbelief and alerted emergency services as the woman teetered on the ledge shortly before 9am after apparently smashing a window in order to get out.

An ambulance crew was summoned to the scene but there was little they could do as the woman sat for a short time and then hurled herself onto the street below in front of a stunned crowd of onlookers.

Parts of Lothian Road – one of Edinburgh city centre’s busiest streets – were closed off as white suited forensic teams and uniformed police launched an investigation into the early morning horror.

Shocked hotel guests were ushered from windows as cleansing teams were called in to power wash the affected area just off Princes Street.

A police spokesman said: “Police responded to an incident that happened around 8.45am today, where a 30-year-old American national fell from a fourth floor window at a city centre hotel.

“Her death is not being treated as suspicious, and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Andrew Wright, an administrator at St John’s Church sited across the road, said: “I arrived just after 9am and a Big Issue vendor said he had seen it happen just 10 minutes before.

“He said he saw a lady sitting on the window sill outside, and she was rocking back and forth for a while.

“When the ambulance turned up she tipped herself over the edge.

“He went home soon after that, he was very shaken, it is an awful thing for someone to witness.”

White sheets had been laid on the ground where the woman had landed, and one of the hotel’s top floor windows appeared to be smashed.

Guests at the Hilton could be seen staring down at the scene on the pavement.

A street cleaner vehicle with a Crime Stoppers logo was also present, to clean the street before it was reopened by police at around 11.30am.

One onlooker said: “I have no idea what happened, but whether she jumped or fell it is a real tragedy.”

A police spokesman said they could not comment any further on the circumstances.

Many of the hotel’s guests who were heading out for the morning were none-the-wiser about the commotion, with one woman saying: “I slept in – no one has mentioned anything to me.”

No-one from the hotel built – a favourite for rich and famous guests staying in Edinburgh – was immediately available for comment.

Built in 1903 by the Caledonian Railway Company it is one of Hilton’s flagship hotels and underwent a multi-million pound revamp in 2008.

Big Issue vendor Martin Crawford told how the horror unfolded before his eyes.

Shaken Martin, who has worked the pitch outside St John’s immediately across from the scene for two years, told how hotel staff tried valiantly to take the troubled woman back inside.

He said: “I got here at 8.15am and guys from the hotel were trying to communicate with the woman who was sitting on the ledge outside.

“She had dark hair and was wearing dark clothes.

“One of the hotel workers appeared to be talking to her on a phone or some kind of radio, but she never once looked up.

“She was rocking back and forwards in a really sinister way and just kept looking down.

“The street was cordoned off before she had even jumped.

“They knew it was going to happen.

“As soon as the ambulance arrived she leaned over and let herself go.

WITNESS: Martin Crawford

“The ambulance staff hadn’t even got out of their vehicle when she did it.

“When she fell she bounced off the side of the building a few times, it was pretty horrific.”

He added: “She must have smashed the window before I arrived because I never saw her do that.

“It was over quite quickly, she had jumped by 8.40am I’d say.

“They stopped the buses coming up Lothian Road for a while, it had made some mess.

“They used quite a few sheets to cover the blood but there is still some on the pavement now.

“I’m not sure if she was a guest at the hotel.

“She didn’t appear to be wearing expensive clothes but then again it was still a bit dark.

“I was a wee bit shaken after it had happened but it was just the shock.”

Bosses at the Hilton revealed their staff members are regularly trained for events like this one, and offered their condolences to the woman’s family.

A Hilton Worldwide spokesperson said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm a female guest has died outside the Caledonian Hilton Edinburgh on Princes Street early on Wednesday October 13.

“We offer our sincere condolences to her family at this difficult time.

”The safety and security of our guests and staff is our primary concern and our team members undergo regular training in preparation for such an eventuality.

“We can confirm that Lothian and Borders Police are investigating the matter and we are fully co-operating with them.”


  1. My boyfriend was there, he’s really shaken up. Such a tragedy for the woman, her family and all of the innocent passing people who had to witness it.

  2. i was there. no one thought she was going to jump. most people didn’t even stop to have a second glance, hurrying on their way to work. when I saw her body falling, hitting parts of the building on its way down, I couldn’t stop screaming. it’s the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.

  3. I was there ,it was so horrible,she waited for over 10 minutes,everyone was so scared ,at once I thought she would not jump but just after the ambulance arrival she let go and it was so horrible to see ,she fell and bounced atleast twice on down floor’s edge,lady beside me almost fainted,I have not seen such a horrible thing before in my life.

    ….im still shaky

  4. im so sorry guys, your in my thoughts, as is this womans family, suicide is an awful thing, for the loved ones and the witnesses. Take care of yourselves, I developed PTSD after witnessing a suicide. Be safe x

  5. I was on the 22 bus, everyone was looking towards the bus shouting NO! I thought somebody had stepped infront of the bus, then I think i heard the impact of her hitting the ground, i looked round and just saw a mess on the pavement behind me. That is an image i will probably never forget. Thank God it was after the school run. That would certainly mess up a kid.

  6. I saw it as well on my way to work, I still feel sick. She looked really distressed, was talking to herself and rocking back and forth. Just after the ambulence arrived she jumped. It was horrible.

  7. I am sorry for all affected by this tragedy. However, I must raise objection to the tone of the article. Suicide happens everywhere, nice places and not-so-nice places. The quality of the hotel, the money spent on renovation, the woman’s clothes and whether they would or could identify her as a guest are all pieces of information that attempt to distance the woman from her surroundings. May she rest in peace and her family find comfort, for i fear she felt distanced enough. The information about the spectacle of her fall is extremely insensitive. I hope it was simply a shocked journalist and not shock journalism that I just read.

  8. I feel truly sorry for this woman and can’t begin to imagine how her family must be feeling right now. I had just got off the 22 probably 1 minute before she tragically took her life. I witnessed the events unfold and will probably never forget them. May she rest in peace now.

  9. I was here too and it was so horrible, I stayed as I wanted to make sure she will be ok, I wish I did not, too late now. I wish somebody had been close to her to speak with her, she seemed so incertained and in despair…. I may be wrong….

  10. My boyfriend was there as well… He could not concentrate at work after it. He just got out of 22 and saw people starring at something up there. He then turn around and saw her already falling down… Gosh..

  11. I too want to add my sadness at this situation, for everyone concerned for this today. The woman’s family and those who had to witness it. I myself passed by the incident at about 10:15 and was only aware of the police activity. I Googled Lothian Road this afternoon and came across this article and was shocked to see what the incident actually was. Sad it happened, but thank you for positing the article…it was the only source I found today. So tragic all round

  12. My 21 year old daughter saw this woman fall and is absolutely traumatised. She hasnt stopped crying all day and can’t believe she saw this happen. She couldn’t go to work and had to come home.

  13. The lady fell a few feet in front of me.I will never ever forget the sound when the lady hit the pavement.God Bless and hopes she rest in peace.

  14. I was there too. I was behind the bus and only heard the people screaming and saw the very last second of her fall. Having read this report I now feel very lucky that I didn’t see anything else. I’ve felt dreadful all day – let’s all of us just think how lucky we are not to know what it must feel like to experience that level of despair. I feel very grateful for my friends and family today and hope that this poor woman has found some kind of peace.

  15. I was walking round the corner of Lothian Road just after this happened this morning, I cant get the imagages out of my head , I thought I would be fine but at the end of classes, that could have been about anything today, I burst out crying at the thought of getting a bus back to the bottom of Lothian Road and chose not to today. My thoughts are with her family, and everyone who was there this morning – this lady must have been very troubled may she now rest in peace

  16. I was in my car at the time on my wa to work, stopped at the traffic lights. She fell about 20ft from my car. It is one of themost horrific things I have ever seen. I still feel sick and I can’t stop crying thinking about this poor woman and her family. She must have been so desperate.

  17. I was walking accross princes street and i heard a crash in the distance. I was walking passed the church at the corner on Lothian Road when i heard screams and a dull thud, continued walking and i saw the body being covered by paramedics. I froze. I have been in shock and have been crying since. I feel for her family, I feel for the people who witnessed her fall.

  18. I just turned the corner when she had just landed on the ground, im only 18 and have never felt so traumatised. I have never felt so shocked.

  19. […] Caledonian Hilton Hotel horror at five star suicide shocker By Christine Lavelle UPDATED: RUSH hour commuters watched on in horror as a woman leapt around 80ft to her death from […] […]

  20. My brother was there.This hotel is just to next to his office .He was just 150 mtrs from that spot.. .He called up and said 1st time in my life I have experience somthing like this very closly. Now I know the sound when body hits the ground, It was shooking….

  21. According to the officials on the scene, the lady worked with the consulting firm Mckinesey and lived in london. so sad for her and her family

  22. Rest in peace now, it’s also tragic that suicide tends to happen in a public place where many other people are upset by it, I guess you can’t think clearly when things get that bad, to the people who witnessed this event, take comfort in the good things in your life and your loved ones

  23. My wife and I witnessed this terrible incident on our normal walk to work. We walked under her position, sped up quickly as we realised what was going on as hotel staff were quickly taping off the area and the ambulance arrived. A minute later as we waited at the pedestrian crossing a few feet away we heard the screams of onlookers and looked back to see the poor lady take the decision to jump. I found it traumatic as it unfolded in front of my eyes in slow motion and I still have it freeze framed in my mind. I hope her family can ultimately come to terms with this and wonder what can have happened to have made the lady concerned make this dreadful decision.

  24. I feel truly awful for everyone involved -the poor woman, her family and friends and all of you who witnessed such a traumatic event.

    Sometimes we all need someone to talk to and if you can’t talk to your own friends and family about this, there is someone there…Samaritans 08457-90-90-90 100% confidential, non-judgemental, 24 hours a day.

    Don’t be alone, all the best

  25. I was standing at the bus stop when she was perched on the ledge. I was trying to keep looking at the pavement but then looked up when I saw the ambulance and police car pull up. It was just after this she jumped. It was probably the most horrific thing I’ve seen, I cried for about an hour after. I couldn’t stopped picturing all day yesterday and when I stood at the bus stop this morning.

  26. I was closest to this terrible incident (about 4 feet away) Had the staff not coned off part of the pavement the lady would of fallen on top of me,By the grace of God go i. I had to get wiped down by the ambulance service it will live with me for the rest of my life.But life goes on,

    • I’m so sorry, I saw it too, but turned before I could see it all. I hope you are doing ok.

    • To the poor man who was standing so close (“601”) above – I saw you. I was directly opposite on the other side of the road and I saw you. And the ambulance man who wiped your clothes. It was bad enough watching this horror unfolding from where I was, and I will never forget the wailing noise, or the dreadful vision I keep having flashbacks to. So I cannot imagine the horror and upset YOU must feel. Am thinking of you. Life does indeed go on, but do talk about it, do get help if you continue to feel upset and overwhelmed – it may not fully hit you till later.

    • Dear Sir, ‘601’

      I have wondered about you so much since Wednesday. And the other young man, Alex, who was also there beside us. I didn’t even realise you were there until I opened my eyes. I had covered my face in my scarf to try and block it out. And when I finally looked, i realised you must have walked right past me, and straight into the horror without even realising. I have been so concerned for you, because you left so quickly, I thank God that i realised what was happening, and had time to turn my head, but you had no such warning. This has been the most difficult thing in my life to deal with, and I hope you are ok. To the woman at the bus stop who came to look after me, and to Alex, to the lovely police man, and to you, if you are reading this, I am thinking of you often, and thank you all for your support in the few moments we shared.

  27. Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage;
    be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy
    God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
    – Joshua 1:9

  28. I know the deceased girls family, most especially her younger brother and I cannot believe that this has happened. They all live in Houston, Tx and she had been working/studying abroad. I can only imagine that she must’ve felt alone being so far away from her family. To everyone who had to witness such a sad situation, I hope that y’all can find comfort and not take life for granted. It’s always good to reach out to people who you feel maybe upset or sad in life, you never know if a kind word or gesture may change their attitude.

  29. mel, why did you do this?
    Everyone misses you so much!

  30. She was a friend of mine.

    A lot of us knew her way back to her time in University of Austin in early 2000s. Throughout the years we have been blessed by her energy, intellect and such a joyful outlook on life. Many of us have traveled together, partied together and attended youth conferences together.

    I received this terrible news only yesterday as many of us in our common friendship circle did. Everybody has been in a state of shock and in some sense of denial. The person that we knew and remembered would be as far as we could imagine from a tragic event like this.

    She had been travelling extensively in the past few years as it was her passion. We met her in different spots in the world. The torrents of photographs of her are flooding Facebook right now as a testament of who she was – a much beloved and cherished friend.

    I am in despair and my heart ache for her and her family. May you all who have witnessed her last moment in this earth be blessed with strength and grace. May she finally rest in peace from whatever turmoil that she struggled with in her life.

    With deep love and affection,

    Dody Gunawinata
    Cairo, Egypt

  31. I didn’t know her, but she was a friend of someone I know, here in Houston. She and her family are in my prayers, I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart also goes out to all those who were unfortunate enough to witness the tragedy, I’m praying for you all as well. Pray, talk about it, and get help if you need it, don’t keep it bottled up. God Bless Melanie and her family & loved ones, and God bless all those whose lives have been touched by this sad, sad event.

  32. i was there and saw it happen, it was totally gruesome, we were all so shellshoked and it happened so fast.

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