Alaska’s Deadly Mud Flats Claim Another Victim

Zachary Porter, a 20-year-old from Illinois, was just visiting Alaska with three friends last weekend for “a little adventure” in late spring.

But the trip turned horrific when the group visited the tidal mud flats of Turnagain Arm, a popular destination on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.

The small group of friends were walking on the mud flats around 6 pm last Sunday. Suddenly, Porter found himself trapped waist-deep, according to multiple news reports. His friends tried to free him, but the tide moved in quickly, drowning Porter, Alaska State Troopers told MSN.

Porter’s body was recovered Monday when the tide water had receded enough for rescuers to reach him.

Other people have died when sucked into the quicksand-like mud flats. However, it’s likely been decades since the last incident, Alaska officials said.

“It’s big, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful, and it’s overwhelming,” Kristy Peterson, lead EMT with the Hope-Sunrise Volunteer Fire Department, told The Associated Press. “But you have to remember that it’s Mother Nature, and she has no mercy for humanity.”

‘Solid ground can turn into quicksand’

An Alaska tourism website calls Turnagain Arm a “spectacular setting for wildlife watching, nature photography, and hiking.”

“What looks like solid ground can turn into quicksand with little to no notice,” McDaniel said.

As for Porter, he loved traveling and exploring the outdoors, which he shared with his group of college friends, his father told NBC Chicago.

“They were just going to have a little adventure before their summer activities started,” Todd Porter said.

It’s likely one of the first deaths at Turnagain Arm since 1988 when newlyweds Adeana and Jay Dickison were gold dredging on the eastern end of the arm, Alaska Dispatch News reported. When Adeana’s ATV got stuck in the mud, she tried to push it out — only to find herself trapped as well.

Like Porter, she drowned with the tide.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.