BANGOR, Maine — For Josey Mackin, the only cause for hesitation was giving his new smartphone to his girlfriend before jumping into the Kenduskeag Stream to help keep a man from drowning.
“It’s a $300 phone. I didn’t want it to get wet,” said Mackin, who tossed the phone to his girlfriend right after a man fell into the Kenduskeag and broke both legs around 7 p.m. Tuesday. “And I wanted her to call 911.”
Mackin — who previously worked as an emergency medical technician in Maine for eight years — and girlfriend, Raven Morey, were near the Kenduskeag Stream Park concrete observation deck at the time of the accident. They were looking over the stream near what’s popularly known as “shopping cart falls” and watching people fish when the man suddenly plunged into the stream.
“I turned to look and saw him fall. He tried to jump down onto a little ledge and missed it. He landed about six feet away from me on the rocks,” said Mackin, now a bartender at Carolina Sports and Spirits bar and restaurant. “His back was on the rocks, but his head was in the water.
“At first I thought it was a mannequin and I asked if somebody threw something over, and my girlfriend said it was a person. So I grabbed my phone, threw it at her, told her to call 911 and I jumped in after him. I didn’t even think about it.”
The victim was 35-year-old Ryan King, a Bangor man who was partially on the rocks and partially in the Kenduskeag waters after falling 12 to 15 feet.
“I swam down with the current and caught myself right before him. I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his head above water so he could breathe,” Mackin recalled. “I had to let go for a second to get my balance and then kicked myself on the rocks before pulling him onto the rocks with me. I saw both his legs were broken and moved him over so they weren’t sitting in the stream and held onto him by his shirt.”
That wasn’t the only challenge facing Mackin.
“He was trying to fight me and get out of there. He pushed away from me and almost went back in the water, but I pulled him back up again,” Mackin said. “He just didn’t know what was going on and was in a lot of pain.”
King had broken both femurs and also suffered numerous rib and elbow injuries.
“I kept talking to him and felt down his rib cage. His ribs were broken. Felt down his internals and nothing seemed out of place,” Mackin said. “I checked his legs and both femurs were blown out. His elbow was messed up. I just held him there and another guy came up to help, but he got really queasy when he saw what happened, so he walked away.”
As he waited for help to arrive, Mackin tried to keep King alert and awake, asking him his name, birthday, age, hometown and state.
“He started to close his eyes, so I’d shake him a little to keep him awake,” said Mackin, 29, of Brewer. “I lost track of time. It just shot by. I held onto him, holding one rock so I didn’t fall in and holding his shirt.”
The 911 call was received at 7:03 p.m. and emergency personnel were on the scene at 7:10 p.m., according to the Bangor Fire Department.
“A fireman showed up and stood behind me and asked what was wrong. I told him he had bilateral femoral fractures and his elbow was injured,” Mackin said. “Then EMS came down with some more firemen.”
Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards credited Mackin for his quick assistance at the scene.
“We really appreciate him helping,” Edwards said.
King was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center at 7:36 p.m. after the Bangor Fire Department’s tactical rescue team used a basket attached to ropes to help bring him up a steep hill from the stream.
An EMMC spokesman said Thursday afternoon there was no information available on King.