Early this month, the fire department freed a woman who was stuck in mud and sand near Lisabeula Park.
Lore Wintergreen, a new island resident, said she and her partner had gone for a walk on March 2 at low tide. She ventured ahead, ultimately growing stuck and sinking knee-deep in mud, which sucked her down.
“I thought it was just muck,” she said of the material that held her tight.
Unable to free herself, she called her partner, who in turn called 911.
Firefighter/emergency medical technician Ben Davidson was among those on the call. Initially, he and his colleagues thought it was a joke — the report of a woman stuck in the sand — but that thought quickly changed.
“When we got there, we could see she was legitimately in peril, in the sand and mud up to her knees, and we could not get to her,” he said, adding they to began to get stuck themselves when they tried to approach her.
He and the other firefighters began retrieving logs and created a makeshift dock to get out to her. Davidson said he ran to get a rope, thinking they could pull her out, but soon realized that would not work. Ultimately, he said, he shoveled the mud and sand off Wintergreen’s feet, while other responders tried to get their hands under her feet. Finally, they put logs on either side of her and were able to pull her out, a firefighter standing on each log.
He added that the tide was way out and not a concern. Wintergreen noted that she was never afraid.
Since the incident, she said that she learned that the presence of a freshwater stream likely created the quicksand effect and that she might have been able to free herself by stepping backward; she had only tried to step forward and diagonally to get out.
She noted that the crew tending to her made four different attempts to free her before being successful.
Repeatedly, she mentioned the kindness of the crew, who also dug her shoes out, saving them and her orthotics, and helped her get her shoes on her cold feet when it was over.
Davidson said he does not recall a similar such incident, but said it could happen again at other places around the island.
“People need to know about it,” he said. “I have lived here my whole life and never thought I could get stuck on the beach.”