PROSPECT, Maine — Searchers were back on the water Thursday looking for the body of a Searsport District High School freshman who jumped from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge on Tuesday afternoon.
Waldo County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Robert Keating said the search was a joint effort of the Maine Marine Patrol and Maine State Police dive team and the U.S. Coast Guard. He said the searchers had not made any progress by late afternoon. He said the Coast Guard vessel Guardian was serving as the command post. The Marine Patrol’s fixed-wing aircraft also took part in the search, he said.
Witnesses reported seeing the 14-year-old Stockton Springs boy jump off the bridge at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday. A Rockland couple told sheriff’s deputies and rescue personnel that they were traveling in the northbound lane of the bridge toward Verona Island when the vehicle in front of them stopped at about the middle of the bridge and the male operator left the vehicle and jumped from the bridge into the river below.
Another witness told officers that he was in the observatory parking lot beneath the bridge on the river’s edge and observed the male go into the water.
The travel deck of the cable-stayed suspension bridge is about 155 feet from the surface of the river at high tide. According to tide charts, high tide in Bucksport was at 5:11 p.m., a couple of hours after the youth was seen jumping from the bridge.
Boats from Prospect Fire-Ambulance and Bucksport Fire-Ambulance responded Tuesday and mounted a rescue effort along with boats from the Marine Patrol and Coast Guard. A Coast Guard helicopter and Marine Patrol plane also joined search efforts. An approximately 20-mile-long stretch of the river, upstream and downstream, was examined before the search was suspended that evening.
Keating said the vehicle the boy drove onto the bridge belonged to a family member, and that officers have been in continuous communication with members of the boy’s family since Tuesday.