HAVERHILL – A man jumped into the Merrimack River last night, proclaiming to witnesses he could swim across but never made it.
The body of Calvin Adams. 53, of 47 Brooks St., Haverhill, was pulled from the water near the Basiliere Bridge about 10:30 p.m., some two hours after he jumped from a railing on the boardwalk behind 1 Water St.
A witness who would only identify himself as Rob said Adams started to climb over the railing and was boasting he could swim across the river. When Rob tried to stop him, Adams started throwing punches.
“I kept telling him ‘Man, don’t do it.’ Nobody can swim across that river,” Rob said. “He jumped in. He got way up there and then started yelling ‘Help me! Help me! Help Me!
“I couldn’t jump in and save him. I couldn’t. What was I supposed to do?” the witness asked.
Rob said Adams jumped in and started swimming upstream toward the Basiliere Bridge. The last time Rob saw Adams above the surface he had just about made it to a bridge support in the middle of the river. Rob stood on the boardwalk directing Harbormaster Michael Vets to the area where Adams was last seen screaming for help.
State police dive team members arrived on scene and began searching the river about 10 p.m. along with Vets and Haverhill firefighters. Adam’s body was found by divers within 30 minutes of entering the water.
The area where he jumped is a known place for homeless to congregate. Rob, who said he fishes there every night, added he has seen Adams there before and that he appeared drunk at the time.
“People think they can swim across this river and they can’t,” Rob said. “He was just screaming. I can’t believe this. This is tragic.”
Police Lt. Kevin Dorr said Adams’ body was found between the Crescent Yacht Club and Basiliere Bridge, not far from where he jumped in.