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  #1  
Old 01 June 2009, 02:14 AM
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Icon81 Quicksand pulls woman in half

Comment: In Anchorage we were told by the tour guide that a married couple
were walking by the water near the downtown by the exercise path when the
wife, who was farther out, started to sink in the quicksand. The husband
watched in horror, unable to help. Then a rescue helicopter tried to pull
her up but her body broke in half. The moral was, of course, stay off the
quicksand but did anything like this ever happen and indeed COULD it
happen? It seems to me anyone who wasn't a halfwit would pull a person out
sideways but is it possible to split a person in half pulling upwards from
quicksand? I'm guessing that story has been part of myths in other places,
too.

(We were also told there was a one-way sidewalk where you had to walk
facing the traffic. That was so we could dodge the drunks driving up onto
the sidewalk which according to the guide was so common that there were
rules about which way a person could walk! There were no signs to that
effect. The tourism personnel apparently thought tourists were idiot
children who had to be frightened into obedience. I have no doubt a car
did once or even twice drive up onto the sidewalk and that was the basis
for the story but there were no one-way sidewalks and I was ignored by a
policeman driving past when I was going the wrong way. I should have just
laughed at these lies, uh myths, but they started to really irritate me by
the time I left. I need legitimate warnings and advice not urban legends.)
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  #2  
Old 01 June 2009, 05:39 AM
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Quicksand, IIRC, has a very watery consistency (not surprising, since it's just sand and water). For this rumor to be true, the stuff the hapless lady fell into would have to have a very thick, gluey consistency- like tar only worse.
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  #3  
Old 01 June 2009, 06:20 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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A helicopter has instruments measuring how much weight there is on the lifting hook. I doubt a pilot would continue to pull when he saw that needle climb high enough to do that damage.
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  #4  
Old 01 June 2009, 10:12 AM
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Walking facing the oncoming traffic is sensible safety advice if there's no pavement (and barring blind corners and so on, where you're better off on the outside for better visibility), but I don't know of anywhere that it's an actual rule. Perhaps Anchorage / Alaska is different.

Seems as though your correspondent has already worked out that the other one is rather unlikely.
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  #5  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Walking facing the oncoming traffic is sensible safety advice if there's no pavement (and barring blind corners and so on, where you're better off on the outside for better visibility), but I don't know of anywhere that it's an actual rule. Perhaps Anchorage / Alaska is different.

Seems as though your correspondent has already worked out that the other one is rather unlikely.
I have seen 'walk facing traffic' signs in the California lake Tahoe area, and it is law, at least in South Dakota
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  #6  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:09 PM
purpleiguana purpleiguana is offline
 
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Mythbusters did quicksand. Since Adam was able to get out of the quicksand unharmed, I'm pretty sure no quicksand in the history of ever ripped anyone in half. Of course, if it was a rescue helicopter and they pulled a little too quickly, I'd by dislocation or a broken bone... even paralysis if too much force were exerted on her spine. But ripped in half? No way.
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  #7  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:18 PM
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Quicksand piqued my curiosity. The Wikipedia article is remarkably useless, uncommon for Wikipedia. The howStuffWorks article has a nice little video.

Mud (or quicksand) can make incredible suction, so pulling too hard or fast could cause injury. Rescuers would probably know this.
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  #8  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Induktionator View Post
Mud (or quicksand) can make incredible suction, so pulling too hard or fast could cause injury. Rescuers would probably know this.
Agreed. I would thing that they would use ropes to stop the sinking and then dig out the victim.
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  #9  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:43 PM
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I got the impression that the questioner was implying the helicopter pulled her upper half while the lower half stayed terra firma.

I believe there is special equipment for extracting people from quicksand, basically a high pressure water hose around the stuck limb. The emergency services would probably have known this.
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  #10  
Old 01 June 2009, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonWolf View Post
Agreed. I would thing that they would use ropes to stop the sinking and then dig out the victim.
I don't think they would use a helicopter in that way regardless. It's dangerous to both the victom and the helicopter.

In the particular case of Cook Inlet though there is a time constraint as the land she was walking on is under water when the tide is in.
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  #11  
Old 01 June 2009, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
(We were also told there was a one-way sidewalk where you had to walk
facing the traffic. That was so we could dodge the drunks driving up onto
the sidewalk which according to the guide was so common that there were
rules about which way a person could walk! There were no signs to that
effect. The tourism personnel apparently thought tourists were idiot
children who had to be frightened into obedience. I have no doubt a car
did once or even twice drive up onto the sidewalk and that was the basis
for the story but there were no one-way sidewalks and I was ignored by a
policeman driving past when I was going the wrong way. I should have just
laughed at these lies, uh myths, but they started to really irritate me by
the time I left. I need legitimate warnings and advice not urban legends.)
It's really nice of the drunks to only swerve to the left. The drunks in Illinois are rude enough to swerve to the right half the time, which would knock off those people walking against traffic who thought they were safe.
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  #12  
Old 01 June 2009, 04:31 PM
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Also, this is NOT quicksand we're talking about. The mud flats are composed of glacial silt that weighs an absolute ton once you sink in it, and as the water shifts within it it can turn practically to concrete.
It's hard to describe, but it's almost impossible to extract yourself from this stuff once you're sunk in a bit. We're taught from a young age to never, ever go out there. Which, of course, is why I have some personal experience in the matter.
We do currently use rescue helicopters in mud flat rescue operations, and they're equipped with hoses to try to blast the mud away from the victim and/or soak it around their legs enough that they can be pulled free.
The story about the rescue helicopter tearing a person in half is indeed one I have heard several times presented as fact (and as the reason they installed the hoses), but I don't have substantiating information yet. I'll see if I can dig up a resource.

ETA: This blogger says no. Don't know if there's something more authoritative to be found.

Last edited by Bryan With a 'Y'; 01 June 2009 at 04:40 PM.
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  #13  
Old 01 June 2009, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
I don't think they would use a helicopter in that way regardless. It's dangerous to both the victom and the helicopter.

In the particular case of Cook Inlet though there is a time constraint as the land she was walking on is under water when the tide is in.
I didn't mean to imply that they would use the helocopter. The lines would be to ground based equipment or to the rescuers themselves.
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  #14  
Old 10 June 2009, 10:38 PM
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nevermind


and here are some extra characters to satisfy the posting requirements
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  #15  
Old 11 June 2009, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
I don't think they would use a helicopter in that way regardless. It's dangerous to both the victom and the helicopter.
Why would it be dangerous to the helicopter? The release button for the hook is on the control stick, a simple press and the helicopter is un-tethered.
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  #16  
Old 11 June 2009, 05:42 PM
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When I was still in training, about 16 years ago, I saw a video about a woman who'd been trapped in the silt of a tidal mud flat (possibly the very one discussed above). This may have been a reenactment. In the video, a variety of professional and non-professional rescuers spent hours trying to extract her; she ended up drowning after the tide came in, as none of the attempts had been able to budge her more than a few inches. IIRC, exacerbating the problem was that she was down in a water channel, rather than up on the main level of the flat. Hmm.. none of my coworkers saw the video when they were in training, so I can't confirm anything about this.
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