Rescuers pluck eagle photographers from Kasilof mudflats

Zaz Hollander

Authorities say Kenai Peninsula Borough rescuers managed to pull two men to safety after they walked out onto the mudflats along Kasilof's Kalifornsky Beach Road and got stuck -- just as the tide started coming in.

John Prince, 46, of Arkansas and William Shannon, 47, of Indiana had walked about 500 feet onto the mudflats to photograph an eagle, Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch posted Friday. Then the men got stuck and couldn't get themselves out.

Troopers say that a thrid member of their group, 42-year-old Brian Jones of Arkansas, called for help at 11:12 p.m. Thursday. The men were tourists staying at some rental cabins near the beach.

Nine responders from the borough's Central Emergency Services department had to use ropes to scale the bluffs and cliffs leading down to the beach where the men were stuck, said Brad Nelson, Central's health and safety officer. The area, at about mile 6.5 of the road, is not a common beach access. The men walked through a setnet access site near their cabins, Ipsen said.

Once on the flats, crews dragged out a "banana boat," a yellow rescue craft with each curved end open for easier rescue, Nelson said. They easily fetched one man who wasn't buried too deep in the mud, maybe to his shins, he said.

The other man was stuck fast up to his waist, Nelson said. Two engineer/paramedics and an engineer/emergency medical technician started digging him out. It took 45 minutes just to get one of the man's legs free.

By that time, the water reached the man and the rescuers were digging through mud and water, Nelson said. They got the man out and dragged him to safety.

"Another three, four minutes and it would have been a very different story," he said. "It got tight there."

Troopers say both men were rescued by 12:30 a.m. and reported no injuries.

Reach Zaz Hollander at or 257-4317.