By Dave Rogers
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Local police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a homeless man who nearly drowned in a Maudslay State Park pond Friday afternoon and is in dire condition at a Boston-area hospital.
Around 12:15 p.m. Friday, the man undressed, entered the small bog-like pond near a park ranger station and quickly slipped underneath the shallow water. The man’s activity was witnessed by someone inside the park who quickly called police. On the scene first, police officer Nora Duggan entered the bog and tried to wrench the man out. When that attempt failed, firefighters, who arrived moments later, were able to extract him using a rope and all-weather suits, according to Newburyport police Lt. Rick Siemasko.
But by the time the man’s body was pulled out, he wasn’t breathing. Firefighters were able to revive him and transport him to Anna Jaques Hospital before he was flown via helicopter to Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center. According to Siemasko, the man was in grave condition as of yesterday. He has not regained consciousness.
“It’s amazing someone saw him to begin with,” Siemasko said.
Siemasko said the bottom of the small pond, about 4 or 5 feet deep and smaller than half a basketball court, has the consistency of quicksand.
“It sucks you in, you can’t tread water in this,” Siemasko said.
Siemasko described the man as being Hispanic and in his 30s. Police believe he has been seen in Amesbury and West Newbury in recent weeks and may have come from the Boston area. He has possibly been identified as Nelson Martinez, but that has yet to be confirmed. It is unknown what prompted the man to enter the pond, but police are looking into his mental history and, in tandem with Beth Israel-Deaconess, reaching out to area psychiatric hospitals to see if anyone is missing, according to police.
Managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the 450-acre Maudslay State Park is located in the western part of the city and ends by the bank of the Merrimack River.