WINSLOW — A man who tumbled down a 40-foot embankment along the Kennebec River Wednesday was rescued by police and firefighters using ropes, pulleys and a backboard.

Kevin Lambert, 45, of Winslow, was taken by Delta Ambulance to MaineGeneral Health’s Thayer Center for Health on North Street with injuries that were not considered life-threatening after the rescue, according to Winslow police Chief Shawn O’Leary.

A MaineGeneral spokesman said just before 4 p.m. that Lambert was still in the emergency department and in good condition.

Lambert was walking along the railroad tracks on the riverbank north of the Ticonic Bridge, which spans the river between Waterville and Winslow, and trying to contact a friend just before he went over the edge late Wednesday morning.

His friend, who was at Lambert’s side before rescue workers arrived, called 911 and tried to prevent him from going into the river from the small piece of ground he’d landed on, but Lambert was disoriented and refusing help, according to O’Leary.

“He was kind of despondent,” O’Leary said. “His friend found him and started calling us, but he got transferred to Winslow, N.J. — but eventually transferred to us.”

Winslow police Detective Ron McGowen and Officer John Veilleux, as well as Winslow firefighters, started looking for Lambert. The police officers found him, as well as his friend, at the bottom of the embankment at the edge of the river. McGowen and Veilleux made their way down the embankment to the men.

“The individual was kind of combative — not cooperative,” O’Leary said. “Both the officers and his friend restrained him.”

The dramatic rescue took place off the access road to Marden’s warehouse, which is off Benton Avenue.

Fire officials who responded to the scene called in a special operations group of trained firefighters as well as a trailer with equipment used in difficult rescues, O’Leary said.

“It’s a cliff — it’s 40 feet from the top of the railroad tracks to the base of the river,” he said. “That is a very dangerous situation, for not only him, but for the two officers going down to try to rescue him and the rescue personnel getting all the ropes and pulleys to pull the individual.”

The Fire Department called Pan Am Railways to stop trains from entering that area while the rescue was taking place, O’Leary said.

Before the rescue started, a woman who identified herself as Lambert’s fiancee arrived on the scene. She was visibly shaken as she waited and watched while emergency workers pulled him to safety.

During the rescue, firefighters used a tree to secure the ropes and pulleys. Winslow fire Lt. John Lacombe was stationed on the edge of the embankment, relaying information between the rescuers near the water and those who were negotiating the ropes and pulleys.

“Hold it — a little more!” Lacombe said, as fire Lt. Waylon Capp maneuvered the stretcher on which Lambert had been strapped.

Lambert moaned and called for his friend.

“He’s coming up the hill right now,” Capp told him.

With several firefighters pulling on the ropes, Capp made it to the top with the stretcher and Lambert was placed in the ambulance.

His friend, with help from firefighters, scrambled up the embankment using a rope with rescuers both behind and in front of him. The friend asked not to be identified or photographed.

O’Leary said Lambert would be evaluated at Thayer.

The chief praised the rescuers for their work.

“There’s no way you could climb up that safely, even if you weren’t intoxicated,” he said. “They did an exceptional job. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know what we would have been able to do — probably get a boat. They were right on spot. They knew exactly what they had to do. All the public safety people should be commended.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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