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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Body recovered of man who jumped from Nashua-Hudson bridge

NASHUA – Chad Gagnon was watching the bobber on his fishing line after casting into the Merrimack River on Tuesday evening when big splash suddenly caught his attention.

Seconds later, a man popped to the surface, shaking the water from his face and wearing what appeared to Gagnon to be a smile. ...

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NASHUA – Chad Gagnon was watching the bobber on his fishing line after casting into the Merrimack River on Tuesday evening when big splash suddenly caught his attention.

Seconds later, a man popped to the surface, shaking the water from his face and wearing what appeared to Gagnon to be a smile.

“I thought I heard him call out a name,” Gagnon, a Londonderry resident, said late Tuesday night.

But what seemed for a minute or two like a playful dive into the Merrimack on a hot summer evening turned quickly to tragedy when the man, after surfacing two more times, finally disappeared one last time.

Officials confirmed later in the evening that dive teams from Nashua and Hudson recovered a body, but his identity and additional details weren’t immediately available.

That the scenario played out right in front of Gagnon left him shaken and, he said, second-guessing his actions.

“I called 911, but I keep wondering if I should have called right away,” he said, adding that when he saw the man surface, he didn’t appear to be in any distress.

Nashua and Hudson firefighters, police and dive team members set up command posts on their respective sides of the river soon after answering Gagnon’s emergency call.

“I stayed on the line with the dispatcher, and they were there within two, maybe three minutes,” he said of the two departments. “The response was impressive.”

Gagnon said it seemed the man was beginning to swim toward the Hudson shore when he went down the third, and final, time.

Gagnon said he and his girlfriend met with fire officials on the Nashua side, pointing out where the man jumped and the spot where he was last seen.

The details helped rescue personnel pinpoint the best place to deploy the divers, which likely helped them locate the man’s body in a relatively short time.

As he kept vigil with other onlookers atop the levee on the Nashua side, Gagnon remembered that he had heard the man count to three just before he jumped.

That, plus the fact the man resurfaced multiple times, Gagnon said, led him to believe the jump was not an attempt by the man to take his life.

“From what I could see, it didn’t appear to me like it was a suicide attempt,” he said, pausing to gather his thoughts.

“Man, it’s powerful, when it’s right there in front of you,” Gagnon said quietly. “It’s something you hope you never see.

“It’s something I never want to see again.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).