Ryan Osmun was trapped in cold quicksand inside a pond.It was the end of winter, and snow had started falling. He was alone without cellphone reception.As the night fell upon him, he lost hope. And he started thinking of ways to die faster.
He thought he noticed a light off in the distance. Was someone coming to help? Or was his mind getting the best of him?
Quicksand can be a mixture of various substances, including water, sand, clay and even air.It might look solid and sturdy on the surface, but it quickly collapses from any pressure or vibration.But because humans have about half the density of quicksand, you’ll only sink to around your waist.Even if you can’t get pulled all the way under, you can still die from things like suffocation, hypothermia, and dehydration just from being trapped in quicksand.
Today, we will look at three incredible survival stories and examine how these survivors escaped a sandy grave. Should you move around or stay still? How can leaning back save your life? Why did one survivor ask to be left alone?
There is quicksand all over the world. But it’s most common near coastlines, marshes and along rivers. And it’s near a river where our first story takes place.
Number 3. The Little Fisherman
While fishing with his father in Oklahoma’s Washita River, a 12-year-old boy got stuck in quicksand.By the time firefighters got there, the boy’s right leg was buried to his knee. But his father had freed his left leg.
His father and three firefighters started pulling on the boy, but he remained trapped. They had to dig with their hands to release the boy’s leg. But with all this movement, the firefighters also started sinking. They used driftwood and tree branches to make a platform to keep everyone from being sucked in further.
Meanwhile, the boy began to suffer from hypothermia and lost the feeling in his leg.After almost an hour, they finally freed the boy, who escaped with just mild hypothermia. If you think an hour is a long time to be trapped in quicksand, just wait until you hear our number one story.
Number 2. A Frozen Miracle
Let’s go back to Ryan Osmun.He was crossing a pond in Utah’s Zion National Park with his girlfriend, Jessika. Then he stepped in a tiny patch of quicksand, which completely swallowed his leg.
They had been hiking for hours. There was no cell reception, and a blizzard started to form in the area.Jessika gave him sticks to jam down beside his stuck leg while she started scooping the sand with both her hands. But the hole was refilling faster than she could pull the sand out.
After 30 minutes, they were in a full-on blizzard, and that’s when Ryan began thinking he wouldn’t make it out alive.He asked Jessica to run for help, knowing that it was his only option.Hours passed. Ryan fell asleep a few times, and the snow kept piling on him.
Just as he was giving up hope, he saw a flashlight and yelled for help. It was the rescue team. Jessika had succeeded. Two people pulled him up from underneath his shoulders while another person dug out the mud.His leg was so cold that it felt like a knife was cutting into his skin every time he touched it.
After a few minutes of extreme pain and what felt like his leg getting ripped off, he was finally free and saved from freezing to death. Ryan was stuck for 12 hours as the rescue team took three hours to find him.
Ryan says his mental recovery was much more difficult, and for three months, he’d wake up wet with sweat after having dreams of falling in water and drowning.
Before we get to our last story, let’s go over some key takeaways that could help you if you’re ever in this situation.
In both stories, the survivors did well by keeping calm and staying still while they waited. Constantly moving around might have made them sink deeper and would probably have drained their last bits of energy.
If you ever get trapped in quicksand, remember to stay calm and take deep breaths to avoid sinking faster. Remove excess weight like backpacks, and keep your arms above the surface.
If you sink to waist level, try leaning on your back. This will distribute your weight, allowing your feet to float to the surface. Then, carefully use your hands to paddle backward and reach solid ground.
To free your legs, try moving them slowly, giving time for the quicksand to fill the space underneath. This process could take hours. But sometimes, a person cannot move at all. This brings us to our last story.
Number 1. A Clay Prison
Robbie Tesar was on a 25-day group expedition near the Dirty Devil River in Eastern Utah and needed to cross from one bank to another.He thought the best way to do it was to walk across the sandy area. But the 25-year-old started sinking after a few seconds.
His classmates struggled to free him. But after a few hours, he was waist-deep in the muddy quicksand.He wasn’t able to move at all. The mud had thickened around his body, and it was like being trapped in concrete.
In this case, drowning was not the main threat. Robbie could freeze to death, as temperatures were around 4 ºC (40 ºF). Hours later, after the hikers activated an emergency alert beacon, a helicopter lifeguard crew and rescue teams arrived to free him.
They used rafts and shovels to dig Robbie out of the quicksand, finally releasing him from his prison at 1 a.m. He had been trapped for 13 hours.Knowing that quicksand can be anywhere, bring a stick the next time you go for a hike, especially near water. And be extra careful if you’re alone.
But what could you do if, instead of sinking to your waist, the earth swallowed you whole?Could you survive falling into a sinkhole?
- “What Is Quicksand? Learn How To Escape It“. 2021. Thoughtco.
- “‘It Grabbed Hold Of Him And Sucked Him Right In’: Hiker Freed After Sinking In QUICKSAND For 13 Hours“. 2011. Mail Online.
- “How (And When) Hikers Should Use Space Blankets“. 2021. Outside Online.
- “How To Get Out Of Quicksand—Tips To Escape And Survive Quicksand“. 2021.
- “Boy rescued from quicksand at Washita River“. News 12.