A team of first responders scrambled to rescue a 12-year-old boy who became stuck in thick mud up to his waist in Essex, Vermont.
The Essex Fire Department say Wednesday night, the boy was exploring a creek bed in an area of Sand Hill Park that's down an embankment and out of bounds for normal play, when he stepped into silty, gluey mud and was unable to free himself.
"It certainly could've been a tragedy," observed Essex Fire Chief Charles Cole.
Rescuers dug for 45 minutes with shovels and their bare hands to free the boy, even using a fire hose to loosen or blast away some of the mud, Cole said.
The child was not hurt in the incident, and was handed over safely to a relative, Cole told necn.
First responders did not publicly identify the child.
"I wouldn't go down there, because as a kid, I'm sure it'd look all fun and all, but just play at the park," advised Paige Bundy, 14, who was in Sand Hill Park Thursday.
"Obviously, it's just important to keep watching our kids," added Emily Pawlusiak, another park-goer.
Cole is now urging people to be extra careful on land around water, even small creeks.
"Don't assume things are dry and safe," the fire chief said.
Safety alerts went up from Vermont Emergency Management this past weekend for Vermont's rivers and streams. The state warned about high levels and faster currents than normal because of all the rain we’ve been having.
Those advisories could well be renewed in the coming days, because there's more rain in the forecast, and it's expected to be heavy at times.
"Just be careful around any stream, any pond, any place where water can be and can collect," Cole said. "The lands are just so saturated—everything's really, really wet—there's more mud, there's more cave-ins."
Mevludin Bahonjic, a father who was at Sand Hill Park Thursday, said he's adjusted his activities because of the conditions.
"I usually take my daughter out fishing or in the kayak and stuff, and it's been very high," Bahonjic said of the water levels. "We've been trying to avoid it the past few days."
That's a smart move, safety experts say, to help keep summer fun from taking a dangerous turn.