Man Dies After Getting Stuck in Quicksand-Like Silt in Alaska

The stillness of the night air was shattered on the evening of Sunday, May 21, 2023, when a group of friends walking on the mud flats near the Alaskan town of Hope encountered the undeniable power of Mother Nature.

20-year-old Zachary Porter of Illinois became stuck in the quicksand-like silt of the tidal mud flats as the tide was rising while his friends scrambled to free him.

Despite their best efforts and the arrival of the Hope-Sunrise Volunteer Fire Department, who responded to their 911 call, Porter could not escape the clutches of the quickly-changing shorelines and was tragically pulled beneath the surface before he could be rescued.

Turnagain Arm, a 48-mile estuary located just beyond Anchorage along the Seward Highway, is a powerful example of the harshness of the Alaskan landscape and the importance of respecting the power of the wild.

At low tide, the muddy ground appears solid, luring unsuspecting travelers into unwary steps across the flats – but beneath the surface is a tranquil layer of silt that, when disturbed, renders a powerful vacuum, trapping any would-be explorers before they can escape rising waters.

Such dangers are evident by posted warning signs, and it is essential to adhere to their advice; had Porter’s group paid attention, the tragedy that occurred them could have been avoided.