EAST MACHIAS, Maine — A Lubec woman jumped off a dam into Gardner Lake, but the current pulled her down over a spillway Sunday afternoon. She suffered a broken leg in the fall, and two teenage boys came to her aid and pulled her out of the fast-moving stream below.
The East Machias Fire Department was summoned to the scene off Chases Mill Road about 1:45 p.m. After members of the Machias ambulance service stabilized her, she was carried out in a basket and transported to Down East Community Hospital in Machias.
Firefighters formed a chain-like line to carry the basket from the water’s edge to higher ground.
Jack Gardner, chief of the East Machias Fire Department, described the area as “rough and treacherous.” It took about 10 minutes to carry the woman out, he said. Machias firefighters also responded.
Gardner said he did not know the woman’s name but estimated her age as in her 30s. She suffered a broken leg, he said.
The woman was identified as Erica Lyons of Lubec by a cousin, James Knox, 16, and Jacob Lock, 16, also both of Lubec. They were swimming on the lake side of the dam — which is accessible from the shore — with Lyons when the mishap occurred, they said.
She jumped into the lake, but too close to a spillway, said Lock. She was pulled by the current pouring into the spillway, falling into a small pool below the dam.
“She jumped off … when she popped back up, she was sucked right down,” said Lock.
The drop is approximately 10 feet to the small pool, which feeds a stream that crosses under Chases Mill Road.
Lock and Knox were standing on the dam at the time. When they saw what happened, they quickly crossed the road. Lyons apparently had been swept across the width of the bridge by the current. She was in the middle of the stream on the other side, a short distance away from the bridge, holding onto some rocks to steady herself, and began yelling for help.
“She kept saying she thought she was going to die,” said Lock.
The teens made their way down a short trail to the water’s edge. They waded into the fast-moving stream and managed to help Lyons to the shore, where she sat on a grassy spot.
“I barely made it in there and got her out,” said Lock. One of the boys stayed with her while the other went for help.
The boys said they have swum in the area before, jumping off the dam, although it is marked in several places with blaze-orange paint, ‘no trespassing.’
“We make sure,” said Lock, that they dive far enough away from the dam and not near the spillway, “so we’re not anywhere near the current.”
Lyons also had swum in the spot before, they said.
Mason Phillips of Machias arrived a short time later with his three children to swim in an area nearby. He doesn’t permit his children to swim on the other side or jump off the dam, he said.
“Because it’s unsafe,” said Phillips. “And they have it marked ‘no trespassing.'”