T3 R11 WELS — A Pennsylvania girl came close to falling over the Big A Falls late Friday afternoon after being swept downstream on the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
Rebecca Levine, 16, of Pittsburgh had been swimming with two other people at about 5 p.m. when she started to float downstream from the Big Eddy Campground, Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Saturday in a telephone call.
Levine, who was wearing a life jacket, told wardens that when she started to float downstream she figured the river would turn a certain way to allow her to get out, but that didn’t occur. She ended up going through some rapids, floating about 2.5 miles downstream before she managed to work her way to the riverbank just before the Big A Falls, according to Turcotte.
“She fortunately was able to get out before going over those falls,” Turcotte said.
Levine, who is working with the student conservation association on trails and staying at the Big Eddy Campground, was discovered at about 7:30 p.m. by kayakers whom the wardens asked to help in the search. The kayakers took Levine, who suffered no more than bug bites and scratches, back to the campground.
Others who were in the area and who assisted Wardens Tom McKinney and Andrew Glidden of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in the search for Levine included employees of the Central Maine Forest Service and the State Bureau of Parks and Land, as well as members of The Nature Conservancy, Chewonki Foundation, Outward Bound, and Maine Search and Rescue team.
Levine told Warden Glidden that she hadn’t realized the dangers of the river, according to Turcotte. “She was unfamiliar with the river,” Turcotte said.
The Warden Service is warning people to be careful of the brooks, streams and rivers that have been filled to overflowing by recent heavy rainfall. The water may look calm on the surface but still may be dangerous and could turn into Class 4 or 5 rapids quickly, Turcotte said. She said the department is urging canoeists, kayakers and boaters to wear life jackets.
“What was fortunate here is she [Levine] was wearing a life jacket,” Turcotte said.