Site of fatal cliff jump on Pemigewasset River known to thrill seekers 

  • The remains of an early-19th-century mill is seen on the banks of Livermore Falls in Campton in 2016. The rocky banks of the river are popular with people who jump into the Pemigewasset River. Shown in the background is the closed Pumpkinseed Bridge, also a popular place for people to jump into the river. AP file 

Monitor staff
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A Massachusetts man died Monday after leaping from rocks into the Pemigewasset River at a site marked online as the best “cliff-diving” location in New Hampshire – the latest casualty at a very popular swimming area along Route 3.

“I’ve been here for 27 years, and we have had several deaths and a lot of injuries from the rock walls,” Campton police Chief Christopher Warn said.

On Monday, as described in a press release from New Hampshire Fish and Game, 24-year-old Saige Bradbury of Bellingham, Mass., “attempted to jump from a rock ledge in the Livermore Falls area into the river (but) struck a rock ledge before landing.” His body was retrieved from the river about 6 p.m., and he was pronounced dead on the scene, officials said.

The accident happened on the Campton side of the town line with Holderness, not far from the border of Plymouth.

“There’s a lot of fun to be had there, but it can be dangerous,” Sgt. Tom Dakai of Fish and Game said. “We’ve had a number of drownings over the years there and a number of injuries.”

“Four people jumped before him. They were fine. He didn’t make it,” Dakai said.

Livermore Falls is listed on at least one website as the best place for cliff diving in New Hampshire. Numerous videos have been posted on YouTube showing people jumping into the river from various cliffs as well as from the long-closed Pumpkinseed Bridge.

The rocky site is just upstream from a state-owned beach, reached from Route 175 on the western side of the river.

“With (Plymouth State) university nearby, a lot of these students find out about it and come back over the years. They bring friends and family,” Warn said.

Much of the land along this stretch of the Pemigewasset River is owned by the state, but the actual site where the rock-jumping took place is privately owned.

“They have posted it many times, but the signs disappear as fast they go up. We constantly address it the best way we can,” Warn said. “There had been a rope swing there for years. (State officials) would cut it down, another one would show up a day later.”

Both Warn and Dakai said there were limits to how much oversight law enforcement could give to the area.

“Fish and Game has tried to keep their eye on their parking area at the beach,” Warn said. “My officers (and) the Holderness police look in, but we also have the rest of the town we have to patrol.”

An autopsy for Bradbury was scheduled for Tuesday.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)