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Shrewsbury river search: Body found amid major police investigation

By Aimee Jones | Shrewsbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A body has been found in the search for a missing man in the River Severn in Shrewsbury after a car was spotted in the water.

The team searching the river

West Mercia Police and a team from South Wales Police were looking for 33-year-old Ashley Atkins, who was reported missing on Tuesday.

His disappearance is being linked to an incident at about 2am on Tuesday when a car went into the River Severn at Frankwell Quay, near to Theatre Severn and Guildhall in Shrewsbury.

Police have since recovered the car with the help of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

They believe it could be the vehicle that was reported to have been acting suspiciously in the area.

West Mercia Police confirmed in a statement that a body had been recovered from the water on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokeswoman said: "Formal identification has not yet taken place, however Mr Atkins' next of kin have been informed."

The force said an investigation into the circumstances are ongoing.

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South Wales Police Specialist Search Unit have joined the operation

Police remained in the Frankwell Quay area of the river this afternoon after the vehicle went into it in the early hours of Tuesday, with teams from South Wales Police assisting.

A 39-year-old man and a 27-year-old man - both from Birmingham - were arrested in Shrewsbury on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiring to commit burglary.

They have both been released pending further investigation.

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The search is being carried out along the River Severn

Officers are investigating the possibility that the two incidents are connected.

Specialist officers with an underwater camera arrived in the county town at about 9.30am yesterday.

They scoured the river for several hours between Frankwell Quay and the Boathouse from a rescue boat dangling the camera into the water.

Mark Hooper, from Sabrina Boat, which is moored on the other side of the Welsh Bridge, on Victoria Quay, said the speed of the river is deceptively fast. He said: “The river level is low at the moment, 0.6 metres at the Welsh bridge, compared to 3.5 metres when it flooded a few weeks ago. It looks calm but underneath the ‘streamage’ is quite fast. You couldn’t swim across in a straight line at the moment.”

Kirsty Walsh, whose husband Shane died in the river in 2017, said: “I went for a walk down the river with my son and daughter to show them the work we have been doing to make the river safer. I didn’t realise anything was going on down there until I saw the search boat.

Memories

“All the memories of when we were searching for Shane came flooding back to me.”

Mrs Walsh, who became an ambassador of West Mercia Search and Rescue following her husband’s death, has helped see life-saving throwlines and extra fencing put in.

Kevin Purcell, chief superintendent for the Shropshire and Telford policing area, said: "Officers came across a vehicle in the river at around 2am. We believe it may be linked to a vehicle seen acting suspiciously in the area shortly before.

"With the help of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service we searched the river and the river bank area where the car was found."

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Nally said: "We would ask that anyone with information about the incident calls police."

South Wales Police Specialist Search Unit have joined the operation

A police helicopter was deployed on Tuesday afternoon as part of the search.

Call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting incident 18N of 16 April.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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