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OAKLYN — A man who found himself stuck up to his waist in a muddy creek bottom sometime overnight was lucky he was spotted by public works employees Monday morning, officials said.
Public works employees were taking an amphibious vehicle to Peters Creek to clear vegetation from the water around 7 a.m. Monday when they spotted a man half-submerged in the icy water between the Oaklyn and Audubon Parks banks, Police Lt. Craig Stauts said.
Emergency responders used the Truxor vehicle to reach the man, 58, and pull him out. He was taken to an area hospital to be treated for cold exposure.
Stauts said the man was semiconscious but so disoriented he was not able to say why he was in the water, Stauts said.
“If they hadn’t seen him, who knows how long he’d be there,” Stauts said.
Fire Chief Scott Cairns said the man did say that he lived in the West Collingswood Extension area of Haddon Township and that he had watched the Super Bowl earlier Sunday night. He knew he had entered the water when it was still dark, he told his rescuers.
Cairns said it wasn’t clear if alcohol or other issues had caused the man to get lost.
“He remembers seeing the football game,” Stauts said. “He’s not sure how he ended up there or how long he was there. He seemed to think it was a long time.”
Stauts said he does not think a person could have survived the cold water if he or she had been stuck for six or more hours.
Investigators determined that the man entered the water from the Audubon Park side and was heading toward Oaklyn when he got stuck. Part of the creek had thin ice over it.
Stauts said that part of the creek had become full of vegetation and sediment, so it is now about one foot of water on top of two feet of mud. “He was in mud up to his belly button,” he said.
It was fortunate that the amphibious vehicle was there, he said, as it may have been too shallow for a boat. The only other option would be sending rescuers out in cold-water suits.
“But then they’re risking the same: getting stuck in the mud,” he said.
Stauts said the man was still at the hospital Monday afternoon and was expected to be admitted. He was still not very communicative, Stauts said.