The 46-year-old Maine woman, whose body was found floating in the Saugatuck River last Friday, died from injuries suffered when she was struck by a Metro-North train while crossing the railroad span over the river last Thursday night, according to police.
Annette L. White, whose death was caused by blunt impact injuries, according to the state medical examiner's office, apparently was struck by a westbound train as she tried to cross the bridge on the side opposite from a pedestrian path. White, who had been living at an Owenoke Park residence since July, was not familiar with the area, which may explain why she had walked into a potentially dangerous area, police said Monday night.
The death, at this time, appears to be accidental, police said in releasing the results of their three-day investigation into White's death.
The finding that White had been struck by a train came to light after police reviewed video footage of the Saugatuck rail bridge, showing that a Metro-North train made an unscheduled stop on the span, just east of the Saugatuck station, for approximately 20 minutes last Thursday, the last night that White was seen alive. The video shows rail personnel leaving the train and searching around the lead car.
Police detectives were alerted Monday morning to the emergency stop by a passenger on the train who had seen reports on White's death.
Based on that information, Westport police, assisted by officers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, began a search of the bridge and its piers. Police divers, assisted by the Fire Department and Fairfield police marine unit, searched the river below the trestle.
By late afternoon, the search turned up a cell phone and one earring on a bridge pier directly below the track where the train had stopped Thursday. It was later confirmed the phone and jewelry were White's.
The multiple blunt impact injuries that caused White's death were consistent with those that could be inflicted by a train, police said.
Westport police said they will continue their investigation, along with MTA police, to determine events leading up to White's death.
White was last seen alive about 4 p.m. last Thursday, police said, by the owner of the Owenoke Park home, where she was living. The owner then reportedly left the house for the evening and White was not seen again until her body was found the following morning near the mouth of the Saugatuck River by a duck hunter in a kayak. "The owner of the home has been cooperative with the investigation," police said.
In a posting on Facebook, White is pictured with Jonathan Prager, a resident of the Owenoke house. The mailbox at the 35 Owenoke Park home has that name on it; the property is now owned by 35 Owenoke Park LLC, according to the town Assessor's online data base. It was previously owned by David A. Prager in 1965 and Annabelle F. Prager in 1999.
In that posting, White writes: "I am thankful for the caring, support, wisdom and love this man so freely shares with me! You inspire me Jonathan Prager."
Prager, according to website information, is a theatrically-trained comedian, singer, songwriter, who refers to himself as the "serous comic."
Two neighbors reached by phone Monday said they didn't know White, but did know Prager and his family. Neither neighbor wanted to comment on the incident.
White, who listed her occupation as the owner-operator at Points of Light Education and Support Center, last posted on Facebook on Dec. 20. On Dec. 17, she posted a photo taken from her bedroom window of a deer in the backyard.
White, who according to her Facebook page lived in South Paris, Maine, and Buxton, Maine; studied clinical psychology at Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center and attended the University of Oklahoma and Bellevue University. On her Facebook page, she lists two daughters and one son, and a number of other relatives, as family.