River swimmers give safety officials a scare

Posted July 28, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

BREWER, Maine&nbsp- Police and fire personnel from Brewer and Bangor experienced tense moments Saturday night after receiving reports that someone was seen jumping off the Penobscot Bridge.

After a quick search of the Penobscot River near the bridge, however, rescue crews were called off.

As it turned out, the “jumper” turned out to be a couple of young adults who said they decided to plunge off the bridge to “cool off,” according to Cpl. Paul Gauvin of the Brewer Police Department.

No charges were filed in connection with the incident, which was reported about 9:30 p.m., though the swimmers were sternly lectured.

According to Gauvin, when he arrived at the bridge he found Patrick Maloney, 19, and Jessica Ford, 20, both of whom reside in Bangor, scrambling up the riverbank behind an apartment building on the Brewer side of the river.

The two were wearing outer garments but had left their undergarments on a rock near the river to keep them dry, Gauvin said, adding that neither was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the episode occurred.

Gauvin estimated the distance of their jump from the middle of the bridge to the river, which was at high tide at the time, at 50 feet.

“At first we didn’ t know it was two people or that they were swimming,” the officer said, adding that police and fire personnel were worried someone was trying to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge.

“They turned out to be fine,” he said of the pair.

Gauvin said that things could have turned out much differently.

“I know from boating on it that the river is full of rocks and pieces of old wood and other things,” he said.

“They really could have hurt themselves,” Gauvin said. “The water isn’ t really deep enough for that. They were lucky they didn’ t get stuck in the mud below or hit something in the water. By jumping off, they could have hit one of the [bridge supports].”

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