PHOTOS: Enfield firefighters search river for purse after Lebanon woman falls headfirst from Rail Trail trestle
Victim's car keys were at the bottom of the Mascoma River
ENFIELD - Volunteer firefighters brought in a rescue boat and spent over an hour scouring the rocky bottom of the Mascoma River in downtown Enfield for a 33-year-old Lebanon woman's purse after she took a plunge headfirst off a 15-foot-tall concrete wall supporting an antique railroad bridge that is now part of the popular Rail Trail that parallels Route 4 and Main Street.
Enfield volunteer firefighters and EMTs rushed to the scene opposite the Lutheran Church on Main Street at 7:30 p.m. Thursday after they received a report of a woman with a serious head injury still in the water beneath the bridge.
Neighbor Mark Wright was actually one of the first people to arrive after he heard a young boy yelling for help in the middle of Main Street. Wright said it appeared that the woman was with members of her family who were fishing when she apparently leaned out too far and went over.
The man in the green shirt is standing at approximately the spot from where the woman fell
As the woman was being loaded onto an Enfield Ambulance for the trip to the hospital family members told first responders that her black purse, which contained the keys to the family's locked vehicle, had gone flying into the river with her when she fell.
The bridge is just a few yards from Main Street in Enfield
A crowd gathered on the bridge which is part of the Rail Trail passing through town
Enfield Fire Chief David Crate (in blue shirt) and Firefighter Kim Withrow (orange) help Mark Wright search
Wright waded in neck deep and searched for the better part of an hour until it began to get dark and then Enfield firefighters went and got "Rescue 1", their flat-bottomed department boat which has an underwater camera, and brought it upriver to the scene. The failing light meant the camera wasn't a help but members of the fire department standing on the bridge and on the shore got occasional glimpses of a silverly object in the water and right at 9 p.m. sharp the crew on the boat managed to snag the purse with the hook on the end of a pike pole and raise it to the surface.
Holding a glow stick, Wright looked for the black purse in water that in places was over his head
Firefighters arrived with Enfield's flat-bottomed rescue boat just as darkness started to settle in
Observers on the bridge kept seeing glimpses of something shiny in their flashlights
As the boat slowly turned in circles, Withrow was certain she'd seen a black object about 20 feet out from the bank
Suddenly, amid cries of "You got it!," the purse was pulled to the surface
Water pours from the purse as Withrow takes it to pass along to the Enfield Police
A carabiner clipped to the purse holding the woman's keys was apparently what was being glimpsed from the bridge
Vermont News can be contacted at email@example.com