Drought brings unseen dangers in Oklahoma's dry lake beds

Dry lake beds can create muddy hazards in a drought. An Oklahoma City man says he was stuck in the mud last year at Lake Hefner.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY rmedley@opubco.com Modified: January 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm •  Published: January 31, 2013

“One second I was standing on dry sand, the next I was knee deep and sinking quickly. Luckily, I was able to lay flat, crawl, and pull myself free. Had this happened to a weaker person or a child, this could have easily ended in a fatality,” Roberts said.

That was October 2011; the ongoing drought has exposed more land since. People need to beware of the danger, he said.

“With this going to be a problem for an extended time and the proximity of Stars and Stripes Park to Lake Hefner, I feel that it is only a matter of time until someone has to be rescued or worse,” Roberts said.

While it is illegal to drive off road at Oklahoma City lakes, walking along the shorelines is allowed, said Debbie Ragan, Oklahoma City's utilities department spokeswoman, but people should be cautious.

“We would like to remind people that just because the lake bottom looks dry, it may not be. There is a lot of silt that has been under water for many years. It could still be wet and people could get stuck,” Ragan said.

Roberts knows the dangers firsthand.

“What makes it difficult to escape is that the moisture forms suction around your feet so it actually feels like someone is grabbing you around the ankles,” Roberts said. “My legs aren't in the best shape anyway. Believe me, I could barely walk the next few days after getting out.”



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