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Man rescued after being trapped in 'quicksand' for 13 hours in rural Utah

By Jasen Lee | Posted - Nov. 25, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.

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HANKSVILLE, Wayne County — A man who was rescued from muddy "quicksand" has been released from the hospital and will rejoin the wilderness survival course he was participating in on Saturday.

Investigators said Robert Tesar, 25, was with a group of college students enrolled in the National Outdoor Leadership School, that had been placed in a rugged wilderness area on a 25-day survival expedition.

Authorities were contacted Wednesday evening about an emergency alert beacon being transmitted from the Dirty Devil River in the Robbers Roost area of Wayne County, which prompted sheriff's deputies and a chopper to be dispatched to the area.

The group had been hiking in the location for 23 days and crossed the river several times without incident before Tesar became trapped.

"He was pretty much unable to move at all," said chopper medic Matias Quintanilla. "He was pretty cold, so we were trying to get warmed up with heat packs."

He was pretty much unable to move at all. He was pretty cold, so we were trying to get warmed up with heat packs.

–- Mathias Quintanilla, chopper medic

Tesar was found stuck up to his mid-thighs in a thick, muddy, clay-like substance described as "quicksand." River water reached up to his waist. Numerous attempts were made to remove him, but to no avail.

Quintanilla said rescue crews floated out to Tesar on rafts, then worked to dig him out of the mucky substance using shovels.

"The group was just about finished and they were crossing the river to get to the other bank. He thought the sandbar would be a good route, but he sunk right to his waist," Quintanilla explained. "He was about 15 feet off the bank of the river on a sandbar that … sucked him right in."

Additional emergency personnel responded and Tesar was pulled from the "quicksand" after being stuck for over about 13 hours.

Quintanilla said the muddy substance contained heavy clay and acted "like concrete" in holding the victim in place for hours.

"He wasn't able to move at all," he said. "It grabbed hold of him and he wasn't even able to move his feet to even attempt to get out."

Tesar was eventually taken to Sevier Valley Medical Center in Richfield, where he was treated for minor exposure and then released, according to hospital spokesman Evan Christensen.

"He just sunk in the quicksand (and) they just had to support him until they got enough people there to dig around to lift him out gently so they didn't literally pull him apart," Christensen explained. "Circulation would be the biggest (concern) and the cold."

All things being considered, Christensen said Tesar was in "pretty good shape" following the rather tense situation.


Jasen Lee


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