A man out clamming off Centerport Beach saw his morning adventure turn into a real-life stick-in-the-mud Friday, as he became trapped waist-deep in muddy water — needing firefighters and emergency responders to free him before the tide came in.
Although the identity of the clammer was not released, Centerport Fire Department First Asst. Chief Kyle McLaughlin estimated his age to be "in his 60s" and said he was most grateful for the rescue.
"He was stuck pretty good," McLaughlin said, adding: "He was relieved and said, 'Thanks for rescuing me.' "
McLaughlin said the man had gone into the water at the end of Little Neck Road in Centerport at low tide to clam in the shallow waters.
But, McLaughlin said, the man told responders that as he began raking, each movement loosened the creekbed below him — and he began sinking deeper into the mud.
Soon, he said, the suction was so great that he couldn't move.
Fortunately, a retired couple living near the beach saw the trapped clammer and called 911 about 7:30 a.m.
In addition to Centerport firefighters, the Town of Huntington harbor master responded, as did the Halesite Fire Department, which brought a hovercraft.
McLaughlin said it took four firefighters with shovels about 20 minutes to free the man, who was about 50 to 100 feet off the beach. The biggest race, McLaughlin said, was against the tide.
"If he was not removed he would've been in danger," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said area firefighters dealt with similar situations every year with clammers and fishermen, as well as with kayakers at the beach and in nearby Mill Pond. He added that this was the first one this year.
"My advice is pay attention to your tides," McLaughlin said. "Before you go into the water make sure someone else is there with you — or, knows where you are — in case something like this happens."
He added, "This guy was very fortunate there was this retired couple who just happened to see him there this morning and that they called it in."