LEWISTON – A local woman died Thursday after she apparently jumped from the train trestle spanning the Androscoggin River.

Rescuers from Lewiston and Auburn raced to both sides of the trestle about 3:30 p.m. A boat was launched in hopes of saving her.

However, when police and fire crews found her, 38-year-old Suzanne Petty was face-down on a small island near the Auburn side. She was dead and police believe the jump was a suicide.

Witnesses said the woman was alone when she walked out onto the trestle and then stood on the edge for several moments before leaping from the side that does not have a railing. The drop is roughly 30 feet to the tiny island directly beneath the trestle.

Some witnesses said they heard a splash while others believed they heard someone shout moments after the woman jumped.

“I heard somebody yell, ‘she did it!'” said Steve Seger, who was working at nearby Redlon & Johnson at the time. “I saw a coat go flying. It just sort of drifted off into the water.”

Several workers from that company and from others near the end of West Bates Street rushed to the scene but did not initially see the woman.

Responding police, fire and rescue crews scanned the fast-moving river and the banks around it before the victim was spotted on the island, near a dam on the Auburn side.

“It was a valiant effort on the part of police and fire crews,” said Lewiston police Lt. James Minkowsky. “They had everything coordinated very quickly and they did everything they could. It’s unfortunate how it turned out.”

Two teenagers who were walking in the area said they never saw Petty jump and did not hear anybody holler. However, they thought they heard something hit the water near the island.

“All I heard was a splash,” said Steven Luna. “I thought it was a rock or something.”

“Cops came running from everywhere,” said Kyle Karkos, who was walking with Luna.

Police and rescue crews contended with a crowd that swelled to roughly 100 people who flocked to the end of the trestle. They also dealt with driving rain that made the train tracks slick.

Once Petty was spotted, rescuers made their way from the trestle down to the island where they determined she was dead. Petty’s body was loaded onto a boat and taken to shore on the Lewiston side.

Police investigating the death said there are strong indications that the woman had intentionally jumped. They did not comment on possible motives. Investigators plan to re-interview witnesses to the incident on Friday.

According to court records, Petty was arrested Aug. 31 and charged with stabbing her boyfriend. She was indicted earlier this month but the charge was ultimately dropped.

Petty’s last known address was listed as 146 Pierce St. in Lewiston, although it was believed she had been more recently living at 11 Webster St. in Auburn.


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