AUBURN — An off-duty deputy pulled to safety the driver of a pickup truck that was partially submerged in the Androscoggin River on Saturday.

Detective Kevin Nichols said he was driving with his family on Saturday shortly before 10:30 p.m. when his wife spotted what looked like tail lights in the river as they were crossing the Twin Bridges from Leeds into Turner.

As they got to the Turner side of the bridge, Nichols said he noticed a “large chunk” of the guardrail was missing. He told his wife to stop the car and he ran down the 50-foot embankment to where the bed of a pickup truck was sticking into the river, the tail lights just under water. The cab was still on land.

He approached the truck, he said, and a man was in the driver’s seat. Nichols said he helped the man out of the truck and up the embankment to the side of the road.

The man appeared to have serious head injuries, Nichols said, but he was conscious and alert. Nichols kept him talking and monitored the bleeding, which appeared to have stopped, until an ambulance from Turner Rescue arrived. Nichols had put in a call for the medical emergency, he said.

“I wouldn’t classify this as a lifesaving event,” Nichols said. The temperatures were in the freezing range, so there was a risk of exposure had Nichols not come along when he did. There also was a risk that the pickup truck could have rolled farther into the water, submerging the truck’s cab with the driver still inside.

“I think he might have been there for a while had we not come upon him because as soon as I got there, the tail lights went out,” Nichols said.

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