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Hiker recounts lifesaving rescue at Zion National Park after he got stuck in quicksand for 10 hours

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 10:52:10-05

SPRINGDALE, Utah -- A hiker was stuck in quicksand for almost 10 hours at Zion National Park over the weekend in a remote area.

“We got about four and a half miles in,” said Ryan Osmun. He and his girlfriend Jessika were almost to the Subway in Zion when their hike took a turn for the worse. Jessika’s leg sunk in the mud, she tripped and fell forward into the water.

“As I was helping her I didn't realize my right leg was sinking all the way into the sand, so it got about to my waist on my right leg and my left leg started sinking also,” Ryan said.

Jessika got out but Ryan was trapped.

“It felt like you were just sinking into, like, wet concrete. It felt like it had dried instantly; I couldn't move my leg at all,” Ryan said.

Jessika desperately tried to dig out his leg.

“But every second she would scrape it would just fill back up instantly,” Ryan said.

No matter what they tried, Ryan's leg wouldn't budge.

“That's when I started to panic a little bit and I got scared,” Ryan said.

Still soaking wet, Jessika started the four-hour hike back to get cell service.

“About 30 minutes after she left it started snowing really hard, so I was stuck in the water while it was pouring snow,” Ryan said.

Hours passed and the sun started to set.

“My hips were just so tired from standing like that, that they weren't holding me up. I couldn't, I couldn't really control to hold myself up,” Ryan said.

Exhausted, Ryan fell asleep and collapsed into the near-freezing water eight hours after Jessika left.

“I had seen a flash of light, and at that point, I thought I was dreaming. I didn't think that it was real,” Ryan said.

Then he saw the ranger who tried using a rope and pully to get him out.

“He started to pull on that, but it just felt like it was ripping my leg off. My whole hips felt like they were ripping out,” Ryan said.

Ryan, now convinced he would lose his leg, had to wait an hour for three other rangers to show up. Together they managed to get him free.

“I just felt relief I just felt like I was going to be OK,” Ryan said.

The snowstorm forced Ryan and the rangers to stay the night, but when they woke up in the morning...

“It was pouring snow worse than it had been the whole time,” Ryan said.

Crews were worried they'd have to stay another night, but then a small break in the storm allowed a DPS helicopter to hoist Ryan out.

“[I] Feel very lucky to be alive and to have my leg,” Ryan said.

Ryan had hypothermia and some minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. That's where he reunited with Jessika and found out when crews got to her she also had hypothermia and had passed out.

Ryan said he wouldn't be alive had it not been for Jessika and the rangers.

I spoke with rangers and they say the couple was prepared, experienced, and did what they needed to do, and this was just a freak accident.