Man rescued after getting stuck in mud

October 23, 2009 4:42:29 PM PDT
Alfred Casamenti, 81, is back home from the hospital after a frightening ordeal. He knows he is lucky to be alive after he was practically swallowed up in a giant puddle of mud.

"I just didn't want to sink in any further," he said.

Casamenti was up to his waist in mud. The dramatic rescue of the fisherman was captured by News Copter 7 and broadcast live on Eyewitness News and

After almost an hour stuck in the thick mud, Casamenti was pulled to safety by a team of firefighters.

"It was almost quicksand-like. He got into the mud and couldn't get out," Asst. Chief Kenneth Kiel of the Haworth Fire Department said.

Casamenti had gone to the Oradell Reservoir to go fishing when he took a shortcut along the banks. What looked like a dirt path was actually heavy, gooey mud.

"It was a stupid thing," he said.

Casamenti managed to use one arm to cling to a tree and the other arm to dial 911 on his cell phone.

"That was really a lifesaver. I don't usually carry it around like that, but I don't know why I took it today. It worked out fine," he said.

"He wasn't getting out by himself. If he didn't have the cell phone, he'd still be there," Kiel said.

This unprecedented rescue isn't covered in the training manual, but firefighters devised a plan: use three ladders to distribute the weight over the mud, to prevent sinking and to provide a bridge to get Casamenti out.

Sure enough, after 15 minutes of tugging and pulling, the powerful suction of the mud gave way and he was free.

"They did such a great job and in such a quick time," Casamenti said.

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