LEWISTON – A man who tried to hang himself from a tree was rescued Tuesday night after an acquaintance used a pocket knife to cut the rope around his throat.

Police said the 47-year-old suffered a crushed trachea after hanging himself in a small patch of woods behind Rite-Aid on Main Street.

A local man cutting through the same patch of woods at about 6 p.m. discovered the victim hanging by the neck.

When police arrived, the victim was lying face-down on the ground. He was struggling to breathe and there was a gash on his forehead.

Several witnesses told police that a man had saved the victim by cutting the rope. However, that man left the area before police arrived and could not be immediately located.

Police said there was nothing suspicious about the hanging, although they were treating the thin stretch of woods as a crime scene. Investigators took pictures of the area and recovered the rope with the knot still intact.

The victim lives on Oak Street, a short distance from the scene of the hanging. Police said they did not find a suicide note in the woods.

A woman who happened across the scene rushed into Rite-Aid to report the incident moments after the victim was cut down.

Several people were interviewed, but none seemed to know what might have prompted the man to hang himself, police said. They were searching his home Tuesday night for signs of what might have led to the hanging.

The 47-year-old’s son was contacted and went to Rite-Aid to speak with police in the parking lot. The man also has a brother, a sister and a mother living in the area.

The scene behind Rite-Aid drew a small crowd as people came over from Main and Oak streets to ask about the matter.

The victim was taken to Central Maine Medical Center, across the street from the area where he was found hanging. He was being evaluated in the intensive care unit Tuesday night and was expected to be admitted for treatment.

Investigators said they know the identity of the man who cut down the victim from the tree. Police planned to interview him as their investigation continues.

“Usually, by the time something like this is reported to us, it’s too late,” said police Lt. Tom Avery.

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