Friday, June 21, 2024

Man drowns after becoming trapped up to his waist in Alaskan mud flat despite tireless rescue efforts


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A man who was walking on tidal mud flats in an Alaskan estuary with friends lost his life after he became trapped up to his waist in quicksand-like silt and drowned as the tide receded. Earlier it could have been taken out. ,

Alaska State Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said Zachary Porter, 20, of Lake Bluff, Illinois, drowned on Sunday evening and his body was recovered Monday morning. A member of Porter’s group called 911 when they could not get him out, but it was too late.

The accident was the latest tragedy at Turnagain Arm, a 48-mile-long (77-kilometer-long) estuary carved long ago by glaciers, which leads southeast from the Anchorage area and parallels a major highway. At low tide, the estuary is known for its dangerous mud flats made of silt created by glacier-pulverized rocks. At least three other people have been trapped and drowned there over the years. Several more people have been rescued, including one who was fishing there last month.

“It’s big, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, and it’s overwhelming,” said Kristi Peterson, administrator and lead EMT for the Hope-Sunrise Volunteer Fire Department, Alaska. “But you have to remember that this is Mother Nature, and she takes no pity on humanity.”

Ms Peterson, who answered the call, spoke with others in Porter’s party but did not speak to him during the desperate rescue attempt.

“When we respond, we respond with good intentions and as mothers and fathers and uncles and brothers,” she said. We respond with as much gusto and gusto as we can.”

He said the volunteer members of the department would gather for a debriefing at the end of the week.

Ms Peterson said, “I am in touch with all of our members, and they are all heartbroken.” “It’s a difficult situation.”

The accident happened near the Hope community, where about 80 people live. It’s located just 22 miles away in Turnagain Arm – but a 90-minute drive from Anchorage.

The estuary heads southeast through the Anchorage area and parallels the Seward Highway, the only highway that travels south and transports tourists from Anchorage to the skier’s paradise of the Kenai Peninsula.

At low tide, Turnagain Arm is known for its mud flats that can “drag you down”, Ms Peterson said. “It looks like it’s solid, but it’s not.”

When the tide comes back, the silt gets wet from below, becomes loose and can create a vacuum if a person walks on it.

Signs are posted warning people about dangerous water and mud flats.

“I really have to caution people against playing with clay,” Peterson said. “it’s dangerous.”

During low tide some attempt to walk the Turnagain Arm or walk the 9 miles (14 km) from Anchorage to Fire Island, sometimes prompting rescue efforts.

Other deaths have occurred on the mud flats. In 1988, newlyweds Adiana and Jay Dickison were digging for gold on the east end of the arm when their ATV got stuck in the mud. anchorage daily news informed of. She then got trapped trying to push him out and drowned with the incoming tide.

In 1978, an unnamed Air Force sergeant attempting to cross Turnagain Arm was swept away by the leading edge of the tide. The Anchorage newspaper reported that his body was never found. In 2013, Army Captain Joseph Eros died while trying to walk back from Fire Island to Anchorage.

Earlier this month, a man was rescued from a mud flat after a foot became stuck, and he fell waist-deep, while fishing in the Turnagain Arm.

Ms Peterson said she received the rescue call after Porter was in serious trouble, and it takes time to mobilize. Another department – about an hour’s drive away – also responded.

Ms. Peterson urged people to call 911 as soon as possible.

“If you think there’s a problem, if you think there might be a problem, call,” she said. “Because we can move resources, and we’ll go home instead of it being a disaster.”