WESTBROOK — Divers pulled the body of a 35-year-old Westbrook man from the Presumpscot River around 1:10 p.m. Thursday after hours of searching in response to witness reports.
Deputy Fire Chief Andy Turcotte said emergency workers received multiple calls starting at 9:05 a.m. reporting a man in the water near the Saccarappa Power Plant on Mill Lane.
Rescue workers from about 10 different agencies responded to help with the search and staged their efforts from a command post behind the Bank of America branch on Main Street, Turcotte said.
Members of the Maine Warden Service used a plane to scan the river and brought a specially trained dog, a black Labrador retriever, out onto a motor boat.
The dog hung over the edge of the boat as two emergency workers steered it, making sweeping passes near a boardwalk along the river’s edge behind the Bank of America building in an area where the swift current downriver from the Saccarappa Falls begins to slow. The dog barked to signal where it detected a scent, and the dog’s handler dropped a weighted line with a buoy on its end to mark the spot.
Within half an hour of the dog’s signal, drivers from the warden service and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office went underwater to find the man, whom authorities have yet to identify.
A mill worker, Mary Beth Mouri of Portland, said she had just gotten out of work nearby in the morning when she noticed a commotion and went to where the Bridge Street span overlooks the river and saw a man float slightly under the water beneath her.
“He looked to me like he was facedown. He was 2 to 3 feet under the water,” Mouri said. “He went under the bridge, and he floated about 20 feet in the water and then went under.”
Mouri said she was still standing on the bridge hours later because she was unable to shake the image from her mind.
“It was very scary to see that. My adrenaline was definitely flowing,” she said.
Crowds gathered along the banks of the river and on bridges overlooking the river throughout the search, only dispersing when rain began to fall around 12:40 p.m.