Man caught in ‘quick mud’ drowns when tide comes in

Tragedy struck in the small Alaska town of Hope on Sunday evening when 20-year-old Zachary Porter became stuck in the quicksand-like silt of Turnagain Arm, an estuary that stretches 48 miles southeast from the Anchorage area.

The muck that the young man was walking on is a proverbial deathtrap due to the dangerous mud flats made of silt created by glacier-pulverized rocks, which public signs warn of the hazards.

Despite the everyday occurences of people getting stuck and having to be rescued–or worse, drowning–the tragedy of Porter’s death still resonated with Kristy Peterson, the administrator and lead EMT for the Hope-Sunrise Volunteer Fire Department. Peterson spoke on the incident, saying “It’s big, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, and it’s overwhelming. But you have to remember that it’s mother nature, and she has no mercy for humanity.”

The volunteers of the department are heartbroken by the accident, and will be having a collective debrief later in the week in order to process their grief.

In the wake of this tragedy, Peterson advised that people be cautious when playing in the mud flats and to call 911 quickly if they see any warning signs. She reiterated, “It looks like it’s solid, but it’s not”. To prevent more individual’s from succumbing to Turnagain Arm’s treacherous landscape, people must be aware of the hazards of the estuary and understand that no one is immune to the overwhelming force of nature.