In late February 2019, Arizona couple Ryan Osmun, and his girlfriend, Jessika McNeill, were hiking in frigid conditions Zion National Park when McNeill tripped in a shallow creek which turned out to be quicksand. After successfully pulling his girlfriend out, Osmun then found himself caught with his entire right leg completely stuck in the sand. Osmund told CBS News “There was no chance of moving it at all. The sand had surrounded the whole leg and I couldn’t move it […] The best way to describe it would be … standing in a huge puddle of concrete ― that basically dries instantly.” The real problem was that neither of the two had cell phone reception in order to get help.
However, contrary to popular belief, quicksand doesn’t suck you to the bottom of the pit and drown you, but it can leave you stuck to the point that you die of exposure. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, “Physicists have calculated that the force required to extract your foot from quicksand at a rate of one centimeter per second is roughly equal to the force needed to lift a medium-sized car.” While the couple tried their best to free Osmun with sticks, they eventually came to the conclusion that McNeill would need to go look for help.
By that time it was pouring snow and Osmun feared he would lose his leg before she came back with help. It took McNeil three hours to get somewhere where she could call 911 and notify park rangers who took numerous more hours to reach Osmun. After two hours of work, they finally freed his leg telling him “you should be dead or unconscious right now.” Due to bad weather, they were forced to stay at the scene with the rangers overnight where another four inches fell yet everyone came out alright. They flew to the hospital by helicopter the next day.
Photo Credits: ABC 15