A 34-year-old Arizona man was rescued after his leg sunk down to his knee in quicksand during a hike at Zion National Park in Utah on Saturday.
Park officials said on Monday that the man, who was not identified, was hiking in the Left Fork of the North Creek when he became stuck and was unable to free himself.
He was not alone at the time, his female hiking companion was with him, but their combined efforts to free him were fruitless. Before the woman left for help, she gave the man extra clothes to keep warm. Temperatures on the trail were frigid and reached the low teens, park officials said.
The woman then hiked for three hours in order to gain cellphone service and call emergency authorities, park officials said. When she was located by authorities, they had to treat her for hypothermia.
When the park rangers located the man several hours later, he showed signs of hypothermia, exposure and injuries to his extremities, park officials said. It took several hours to free him from the quicksand.
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The park rangers ended up spending the night with the man because he was in no condition to hike out. While there, they began to rewarm him and treat his leg as four inches of snow fell overnight, park officials said.
On Sunday morning, Feb. 17, a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter responded from Salt Lake City, Utah, to pick the man up. However, according to park officials, winter storms in the area caused low visibility, delaying the helicopter’s rescue.
Once a small break in the weather occurred in the afternoon, park officials said the DPS helicopter was able to safely get the man out of the park. He was then transported to a hospital by ambulance.
Quicksand is not normally a problem in the park, said Aly Baltus, spokeswoman for Zion National Park. However, she said the weather at the time was a contributing factor to its formation.
“Colder temperatures, shorter days, snow, ice, and cold run-off can make easy hikes difficult and strenuous ones treacherous,” Baltus said. “Visitors are advised to use extreme caution during poor weather events at Zion.”
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