Swampy places look icky enough when viewed from solid ground, but that’s nothing compared to actually getting caught in one.
Wet mud seizes you about the legs and gravity slowly forces you down into the sucking mire: No wonder allegorical author John Bunyan coined the phrase “Slough of Despond” to describe how the protagonist of “Pilgrim’s Progress” sank into depression.
Real-life sloughs can claim lives in a surprisingly short time. Just consider what almost happened to one New York octogenarian.
According to WCBS-TV, 84-year-old Alfred Cutting faced a dilemma on May 2. It all started with a doctor’s appointment and a missed ride.
By the time Cutting got to the bus stop, it was too late and he’d missed his bus. Not wanting to have to reschedule, he chose to walk to his physician’s office.
Should’ve been easy enough for Cutting, who remembered the area as it used to be 30 years ago. Things seemed to be going well until Cutting decided to take a shortcut through an undeveloped part of Staten Island.
Cutting had used this detour in the past, and it’d had sandy soil three decades ago. Now, though, the area had turned into a wet, marshy mess.
Soon enough, the 84-year-old man found himself with an all-too-literal sinking feeling as he squelched through marshland. His feet got stuck, and then the mire started to swallow him whole.
“I was drowning,” Cutting said. “The water was going in my ears.
“That’s how bad it was. I realized how dangerous it was because I was sinking while I was walking …
“I fell backwards, so I’m looking up at the sky. So that’s when I called 911.”
KABC-TV reported that an air rescue team began to frantically search for Cutting, but couldn’t find him. In fact, after an hour, rescuers began to suspect that the call was a hoax.
So they decided to try a different technique. “Sync up the phone call to the noise of our rotor blade to where the individual was on the ground and he was able to say, ‘Oh we’re overhead,'” said NYPD Sgt. Mark Direnzo.
Earlier today members of @NYPDSpecialops Aviation unit were called when an elderly man got lost & stuck in swamp. Aviation jumped into action, not only locating him, but hoisting him to safety and getting him the medical attention he needed! pic.twitter.com/GwG92suGb6
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) May 2, 2019
“All of a sudden — I don’t know how, but I caught a little hand movement from him out of the corner of my eye, and I was able to relay that to the crew chief here,” one officer explained. “And we were just super excited… it was like Christmas morning.”
The team was able to safely extract Cutting, who was unharmed.
Thankfully Cutting had had his cellphone on him, though he didn’t particularly fancy the device. His daughter had been urging him to take his cellphone with him when he went anywhere, and it was a good thing he had it on him or this could have been a very different story.
For his part, the senior — who was in good spirits — said he’ll be late for the appointment next time, stating, “I’ll never go through there again. No, next time I’ll just wait for the next bus.”
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