A bus driver who caused panic after he reported the infamous ‘Bristol crocodile’ sighting today spoke out for the first time.
Stunned Jolyon Rea, 44, caught a glimpse of the 6ft predator swimming in the river and immediately alerted police to the sighting.
But, despite a comprehensive search, officers were unable to find any trace of the large reptile.
Now the Wessex Connect driver, who has endured mickey-taking from friends, workmates and family, has spoken of his terrifying discovery.
Jolyon, who remains adamant he saw the croc, even underwent a voluntary drugs test to prove he was completely sober at the time of the sighting.
“When I was in my 20s I went to Florida and I saw alligators so I know exactly what they look like,” he said.
“There was no mistaking the crocodile and I am still convinced that is what I saw.
“I know there are some people who don’t believe that there was a crocodile in the River Avon but I know what I saw.
“You could see the sections of its back sticking out of the water.
“The river was very high that day which meant that it was deep enough for the crocodile to swim in the middle of the river.
“I had plenty of time so I got a really good look at it and it looked like a crocodile to me.”
Jolyon first spotted the creature under Coronation Bridge, in Bristol, at around 9.05am at the beginning of February.
“I was stuck in the traffic and I happened to look in my wing mirror when I saw it,” he said.
“I could see about two feet of its back sticking out of the water and I knew straight away what I was looking at.”
He said there were around four or five passengers on the bus at the time but they were all listening to devices and he could not get out of his seat to attract their attention.
He added: “I had to wait until I could stop the bus and then I managed to get the attention of a female police officer.
“She laughed when I told her what I had seen but she said that she would report it.
“It was only later in the day when the Chief Constable went on Twitter and told everyone that all the fuss started.
“I knew people would take the mickey out of me but I would do the same thing again if I had to.
“I am not sure how the crocodile got there but the reason I told the police is that I thought it could be a danger to the public.”
Officers quickly established that Bristol Zoo, which is two miles away from where the ‘croc’ was spotted, was not missing any animals.
Just a day later, officers – in full riot gear – launched a second hunt after another sighting was reported in Eastville Park across the city – but this turned out to be a hoax.
A second sighting of the alleged crocodile came a week later from mother-of-three Kelly Gray, 41, of Bishopsworth, who saw the beast as she was drove past the entrance to St Mary Redcliffe School.