WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport police believe that Annette White, the woman who was found dead in the Saugatuck River last Friday morning, had been hit by a Metro-North train while crossing the railroad bridge over the river, police announced Monday night.
On Tuesday afternoon, officers found a cellphone and an earring that belonged to White, 46, on a bridge pier directly below the train tracks, Capt. Vincent Penna said. Surveillance video footage showed a westbound Metro-North train had stopped for about 20 minutes last Thursday night, Penna said.
White's death appeared to have been accidental, he said.
"Information regarding her whereabouts and possible plans for that evening developed during the investigation indicates that Ms. White — who was not familiar with the area — had been crossing the railroad bridge over the Saugatuck River, but on the opposite side from the pedestrian walkway, when she was struck by a westbound train," Penna said.
A resident of Maine, White had been living at 35 Owenoke Park in Westport since July, Penna said. Her body was found at about 9:15 a.m. last Friday in the water near Longshore Club Park by a duck hunter in a kayak and was later retrieved near the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.
Police began investigating the possibility that White was hit by a train based on the results of her autopsy, which showed she died from blunt impact injuries to her head, torso and extremities.
“The injuries found by the [chief medical examiner] were consistent with someone who had been struck by a train," Penna said.
In reviewing video footage from the Saugatuck train station and the railroad bridge, detectives saw that a train had come to a stop on the bridge Thursday night for about 20 minutes. The footage also showed train personnel exiting the train and searching around the lead car, Penna said.
On Tuesday morning, Penna said detectives received a call from one of the train’s passengers who had learned of White’s death from news reports. The passenger confirmed that the train made an emergency stop on the railroad bridge for more than 20 minutes and that personnel had exited the train.
Westport detectives and officers, together with Metropolitan Transportation Authority police, began a search of the railroad bridge and bridge piers, Penna said. The river water below the bridge was also searched by Westport police divers, with help from Westport firefighters and the Fairfield Police Marine Division.
Although her death appears to have been accidental, Penna said the investigation will continue.
“At this time, the Westport Police Department will be working with the MTA Police Department to determine the events leading up to Ms. White being struck by the train,” he said.
Metro-North could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.