Family of Zachary Porter who drowned in Alaska mud flats speak out

The grieving family of a 20-year-old Illinois man who drowned in quicksand-like mud in an Alaskan mudflat on Sunday said he loved to travel and was on an “adventure” when the tragedy struck. said it was.

Zachary Porter, a college student from Bluff Lake, was traveling to Alaska with friends when he got caught in mud while crossing the dangerous Turnagain Arm, a glacier-carved 78-mile estuary.

Despite desperate efforts by firefighters and Porter’s friends to lift him out of the waist-deep mud, the rushing tide submerged him.

Porter’s body was recovered from the estuary on Monday morning and the family was alerted by police in his hometown of Lake Bluff.

His father, Todd Porter, said his son had a passion for travel and the outdoors, which he shared with his college friend group.

“They were going to have a little adventure before summer activities started.” he told NBC Chicago.

Zachary Porter, 20, from Illinois, drowned in mud on Alaska’s tidal flats on Sunday.
courtesy of family

A channel through mudflats along the Seward Highway and Turnagain Arm in Alaska on October 25, 2014.
Porter and a group of friends were exploring the dangerous Turnagain Arm Estuary when disaster struck.

separately ABC 7 Chicago interviewThe father said his son liked to get lost or “just walk around” during family trips.

“On every family trip, we would get lost while hiking, but he loved it,” he recalls.

Zachary was the youngest of three children and had just finished his sophomore year at Washington University in St. Louis. His sister said he was a role model for her.

Zachary's sister Elizabeth (left) and father Todd Porter (right)
Zachary’s sister Elizabeth (left) and father Todd Porter (right) shared their heartbreak.

“He was the kindest, most caring, hardworking, smartest, most driven and balanced person I’ve ever known,” Elizabeth Porter told local ABC station.

“The number of friends who are utterly devastated by his death speaks to what a big heart he had and how many people he has touched in 20 years.”

Zachary’s mother, Susan Ryder, sobbed, saying her son “was on his way to becoming a great man.”

“Part of what made it possible for him was having different experiences in a community that loved him,” she said.

Zachary, second from left, is pictured with her parents and two older sisters.
Zachary, second from left, is pictured with her parents and two older sisters.
courtesy of family

Porter was also an avid sailor and dreamed of becoming a professional sailor, her mother said.

His family plans to launch a foundation in his name to provide outdoor experiences for underprivileged children.

The estuary near the small village of Hope, Alaska, where Porter died prematurely on Sunday evening, is known for its picturesque but dangerous tidal flats formed by glacier-shattered rocks.

When the tide comes in, the silt gets wet from the bottom and loosens up, creating a vacuum when a person walks over it.

Zachary Porter spotted at a restaurant
The 20-year-old was an up-and-coming junior at Washington University in St. Louis.
courtesy of family

zachary porter and dog
Zachary loved to travel, was an avid outdoorsman and a sailor, according to his family.
courtesy of family

“It looks solid, but it’s not,” said Christy Peterson, manager and chief paramedic at the Hope Sunrise Volunteer Fire Department.

Over the years, at least three other people got stuck there and drowned. Many others were rescued, including the fisherman from two weeks ago.

There are signs warning people to stay away from dangerous waters and tidal flats.

“We really have to warn people not to play in the mud,” Peterson said. “It’s dangerous.”

In 1988, newlyweds Adiana and Jay Dixon were dredging gold at the eastern end of the Arm when their ATV got stuck in the mud, reported the Anchorage Daily News. She then got stuck when she tried to push it out, and when the tide came in she drowned.

View of the Turnagain Arm mudflats
The Turnagain Arm tidal flats have claimed at least three lives in the last 55 years.
Planet One Images/Universal Images Group (Getty Images)

Ten years ago, an Air Force Sergeant was swept away by the edge of the tide while trying to cross the Turnagain Arm. His body was never recovered.

In 2013, Army Captain Joseph Eros died while trying to walk nine miles from Fire Island to Anchorage.

with post wire

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