A 55-year-old University Place duck hunter was stuck in the Nisqually delta mud for several hours Saturday before being plucked to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter.
Rescuers said they believe the man stepped out of his boat to retrieve a duck he had shot, and sank into the mud.
The man’s wife called 911 about 7:40 p.m. Saturday after learning of his predicament by cellphone. Lacey Fire District 3 asked for help from the Coast Guard, which dispatched a helicopter from Port Angeles.
From the John Luhr Beach boat launch, the fire crews could see the dim glow of the man’s flashlight. They launched a pair of jet skis, but could not find him in the dark and rain.
The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter used the GPS coordinates from the man’s cellphone to fly directly to him and then lower a rescue swimmer and basket. He was treated by fire crews at the boat launch and taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital.
“The Coast Guard crew made all the difference,” Lacey Battalion Chief Tim Hulse said. “They got to him and helped us out a lot.”
Hulse said the man’s day of duck hunting had begun Saturday morning, but after his wife hadn’t heard from him, she called him to learn that he was stuck in the mud, just offshore from the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.
Hulse believes the man got stuck in the mud after he got out of his boat to retrieve a duck he had shot.
Lacey Fire sent two units to the refuge and two units to the boat launch. Visibility was poor because it was dark during a rainstorm, Hulse said, but fire crews still were able to see the faint glow of the man’s flashlight.
They also were in constant contact with the man by cellphone, he said. Hulse could tell the man was cold, disoriented and that his condition wasn’t getting any better, he said.
The tide also was out, so the district had a narrow window of time to find the man before the tide turned, he said.