Monday, August 13, 2007

Self Immolation in Kittery

Strange news out of Kittery, Maine, as a man sets himself on fire and calmly kills himself on a Kittery sidewalk.
Suicide by fire may have been planned
By Karen Dandurant
August 13, 2007 2:11 PM

KITTERY, Maine — A Kittery man who set himself afire Sunday afternoon was troubled and may have been considering suicide at least 24 hours earlier.

According to a local gas station owner, Nathan C. Gagner, 27, of 135 Whipple Road, had come in on Saturday to purchase a gas can and razor blades, then returned the following day to fill up the can with gas.

On Sunday, at 4:03 p.m., police received a 911 call advising that a man in the vicinity of 75 Whipple Road had poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire while sitting on the sidewalk.

Kittery Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene extinguishing the fire. An ambulance transported Gagner to Portsmouth Regional Hospital where at 5:30 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Police said that according to family and friends he had been suffering from depression. Chief Ed Strong said he has known Gagner all his life, that he grew up in Kittery.

“His parents are good friends of mine,” said Strong. “I talked with them and Nathan had been depressed. He was having issues and was on medication at times. He recently had suffered a breakup of a relationship.”

Ken Lewis, owner of the Exxon gas station where Gagner bought a gas can and then filled it with gasoline said he had been in there the day before.

“He came in on Saturday to get a gas can and razor blades,” said Lewis. “He paid for them and then put them back on the counter and left them.”

One employee, Tyler Eidell, said he saw Gagner earlier Sunday, riding a bicycle.

“He seemed fine to me then,” said Eidell.

Both men said Gagner was local, a person they often saw.
“When a customer ran in and said a guy set himself on fire, I knew it had to be him,” said Lewis.

Katie Bayer of 66 Whipple Road said Gagner was calm as the flames consumed him.

Bayer, 15, was looking out of her bedroom window late Sunday afternoon and watched from the beginning as the man walked to a spot on Whipple Road across from her house, poured gasoline over himself, and set himself ablaze.

Bayer said she didn’t see the gas can at first, when the man first stopped walking. She saw him pouring something over his head and thought it was water.

“I thought it was a homeless guy taking a bath,” she said.

The man looked like he was in his 20s, with long brown hair, the teen said.

“All of a sudden he just burst into flames,” she said. “He didn’t scream. He sat there calmly with his arms crossed. It looked like he was meditating.”

She said she and her brother tried calling 911 but all the operators were busy. By that time, cars had pulled over on the side of the road, and she thinks they were all calling too.

While she was watching, neighbors across the street came out with a fire extinguisher and then a hose, and put out the fire.

“I was shocked,” she said of the incident. “I couldn’t believe someone would do something like that. People do a lot of things for strange reasons, don’t they?”
Sgt. Ken Grimes at the Maine State Fire Marshal’s office said the incident was over when Dan Young, their senior investigator arrived.
Grimes said they have seen suicides by fire before but it’s usually done in private, in a home or a car.

“I never remember one happening in such as open public place,” said Grimes.

Police say Gagner committed “suicide by fire” and say their investigation is complete.

[Read the full article by clicking here: Source]
There is a second article online, also at Seacoast, written by one of the first bystanders to come upon the scene. An interesting read.
As we drove back to Eliot, we noticed an intense fire approximately in a 6-by-6 area, at least 10 feet high, on the sidewalk across from the entrance to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. I stopped 50 yards short, noticed no traffic, evaluated that the blaze was contained, and proceeded by crossing the center line. It wasn’t until we were directly in front of the roaring blaze that we noticed him, sitting like a buddha. Only his face and chest were visible. He was statue-like, serene, showing no signs of discomfort as the fire was consuming his body.
Click here to read the full account.
Photo of location of suicide by Deb Cram, from Seacoast Online.

No comments: