With tide rising, girl, 10, rescued from mud on Whidbey

The water was up to the girl’s shoulders by the time rescuers were able to free her.

OAK HARBOR — Rescuers pulled a 10-year-old girl out of the mud at Dugualla State Park Sunday afternoon. By the time the girl was freed, the incoming tide was up to her shoulders.

The girl and her family were exploring the area, North Whidbey Fire Chief John Clark said, when the girl and her mother went further out into the mudflats.

They were about 30 feet from shore when the girl sank into waist-deep mud.

The girl’s mother called 911 just after 12:40 p.m.

“It can be a little embarrassing getting stuck in the mud, and you have to call for help,” Clark said. “But mom realized they were in a potentially dangerous situation.”

The tide was coming in. Low tide was 3.9 feet at 12:17 p.m. in the area, according to estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Rescuers had to hike in from the end of Sleeper Road for about a mile to get to the beach and then crawl and slide over the mudflats to get to the girl.

Two WhidbeyHealth paramedics were the first on the scene and began manually digging her out.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, state parks personnel and a Navy Search and Rescue team also responded.

“The tide was coming in and that made it all the more hectic,” Clark said.

By the time the girl was finally free, the water had come up to her shoulders, Clark said.

No one was injured, although they were all quite muddy and wet. North Whidbey fire crews helped the girl and the rescuers return to dry land. It was just after 1:30 p.m. when rescuers got her out.

Clark said he knew of some calls where people had gotten stuck in the mud, but he had not seen a call like this.

“This was different in that she’s stuck out there and the tide’s coming in — it’s a precarious position,” he said.

“The end of that is you drown. If she would have been out there by herself and not able to contact anybody that would’ve been a bad situation.”

Mudflats, also known as tidal flats, can be dangerous. Paramedic Scott Jackson, vice president of the union that represents Whidbey’s paramedics, spoke with the two paramedics who responded to the rescue. He said mudflats and low tide beaches can surprise people with how difficult it is to break free if they get stuck.

“Make yourself as light as possible, keep arms up and out of the mud, try to grab for something to pull yourself out, take deep breaths, and move slowly and deliberately,” Jackson said.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Work related to improvements at the intersection of Highways 9 and 204 will close a road and reduce lanes in Lake Stevens through Oct. 1. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Road disruptions starting around Highway 9 in Lake Stevens

Lane reductions and closures are part of the work to improve the intersection at Highways 9 and 204.

Genna Martin / The Herald
David Barney, owner of Barney's Pastrami on Evergreen, has changed the last names of the dozens of celebrities who's photos hang on the wall of his restaurant to Barney.  The newly named celebrities include Humphrey Barney, Uma Barney, Marilyn Barney, Olivia Newton-Barney and Stevie Ray Barney.  
Photo taken 11252014
Where’s Barney? His pastrami shop has served its last hoagie

Even the Evergreen Way deli’s landlord is looking for him. David Barney has vanished.

Cones near Lake Stevens school aid safety, add congestion

Police are working to reroute the drop-off and pick-up lines at Hillcrest Elementary School.

Rebecca Haskins (Everett Police Department) 20210913
Missing Everett teenager located

Rebecca Haskins had last been seen the morning of Sept. 4. Police reported her found Wednesday.

Jeremy Fuerst (Northwest Washington Synod)
Everett pastor dies while mountain climbing in Colorado

Pastor Jeremy Fuerst, 44, came to Central Lutheran Church in 2015.

Sultan police looking for tips after rash of car prowls

On Sunday, the department responded to 20 reports at Sportsman Park and trailheads near Gold Bar.

Arlington man allegedly killed by son is identified

Nicholi Melum, 63, had an argument with his son, Garner, last week and was shot.

State Supreme Court to hear case of Edmonds gun-storage law

In February, an appeals panel said state law pre-empts the city from enacting its own firearm rules.

Police: Marysville woman was killed, left in Chelan County

The woman was found dead alongside U.S. 2 on Sept. 7. The case is being investigated as a homicide.

Most Read