A woman in her 60s was rescued from the Contoocook River by Peterborough Fire and Rescue on Tuesday morning after she jumped from the Main Street bridge, according to officials.
Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker waded into the water, connected to a rope held by Lieutenant John Berube and pulled the woman out of the water behind All Saints Church’s Reynolds Hall on Concord Street around 10 a.m., shortly after Peterborough resident Tim Selby came running down Summer Street to alert firefighters.
Firefighters tried to throw a rope to the woman as she floated in the river near the station, but she refused. Meanwhile, Selby (a former lifeguard) waded into the river and walked down in the waist-high water to try and catch up with the woman.
A witness also told Walker that they heard the woman say that said she didn’t want to be saved.
The woman was breathing but unresponsive when Walker pulled her out of the water and into an ambulance. She was taken to Monadnock Community Hospital. Peterborough Fire and Rescue or hospital officials would not release the name of the woman.
The river, one of more than 30 rivers in the United States that flow north, was slightly lower than its normal level and moving with a decent pace Tuesday.
Selby was finishing up a 30-to-45-minute morning run around 9:30 a.m. when he came onto a group of people standing near the bridge. He ran down to the fire station and saw Peterborough Fire Department recruit Carl Wilson outside.
“My first thought was: Let me go get the guys,’ and (Selby) continued to follow her while I ran back,” Wilson said.
Selby worked his way down the river and was closing in when he saw Walker grab her. The woman was cold and said little, Walker said, as they worked to warm her up in the ambulance.
Walker said if Selby hadn’t alerted firefighters, then the woman, who traveled about a quarter-mile down the river, “probably would not have survived.” There wasn’t easy access to the river past Reynolds Hall, according to Walker.
Selby works as a corporate account manager for Connection, which used to be called PC Connections. He moved to Peterborough in 1997 to a house on Winter Street. Before he moved to Peterborough, Selby worked as a lifeguard and a lifeguard trainer for the YMCA. He was also a swim coach.
He also operates the Congo Children’s Fund with his wife, Caitlin. The nonprofit organization raises money and awareness for the care of Congolese children.
“It didn’t seem out of character,” said Caitlin of her husband’s acts, adding that she’s “very proud” of him.
Most of the state’s emergency rooms are seeing a rise in patients with mental health issues, according to Laura Gingras, vice president for community relations and philanthropy at Monadnock Community Hospital. Each patient at MCH is evaluated and assessed and specialists are brought in to deal with physical and/or mental issues, Gingras said.