Man Gets Stuck In Mud Flats, Drowns As Tide Comes In

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Dana Abizaid Contributor
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A 20-year-old man drowned in an Alaskan estuary Sunday evening after becoming stuck up to his waist in quicksand-like silt as the tide rushed in, authorities said.

Zachary Porter, an Illinois native who had been walking on the tidal mudflats with friends, slipped into the silt up to his waist, at which point members of his group called 911. Frantic attempts to rescue Porter before the tide swept over him failed, and his body was recovered Monday morning, Alaska State Police told The Associated Press.

The accident took place at Turnagain Arm, a 48-mile estuary in the Anchorage area well known for its dangerous mud flats made of silt created by glacial-pulverized rocks, AP reported. (RELATED: 15-Year-Old Student Reportedly Drowns In High School Swimming Pool)

“[Alaska is] big, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, and it’s overwhelming,” said Kristy Peterson, the EMT who led the rescue efforts. “But you have to remember that it’s Mother Nature, and she has no mercy for humanity.”

Signs posted in the area warn visitors that Turnagain Arm “can suck you down,” Peterson said, adding that “it looks solid but it’s not” and that it creates a vacuum effect when a person walks on it.

In April the flats nearly claimed the life of a man who was fishing in the estuary, but only one of his legs was sucked into the mud, and rescuers were able to save him, AP reported.

In 1988 a young couple faced tragedy when the ATV they were riding became stuck in the mud, according to the Anchorage Daily News. When the 18-year-old bride tried to push it out, she slipped into the mud and drowned in the rising tide.