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Man thought he would drown in quicksand

A man who cheated death by minutes after spending a night trapped in quicksand yesterday described the moment he thought he was going to die.

Terry Howlett, 29, who was neck-deep in water when he was pulled from the sands at Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, said he had realised as dawn was breaking that the tide was coming in fast. "I thought, that's it. I'm just going to have to sit and wait for the tide to come and wipe me out," he said.

Mr Howlett, a former naval engineer, had left his home inDarlington on Saturday evening for a night out in Carnforth, Lancashire.

After "a few beers" on the train and a pizza in Carnforth, he went for a walk on the beach "to clear my head".

"I'd been walking for about half an hour when I came to a gully on the beach and that's when I realised my feet were sinking," he said. "I was just trying to get out but I kept getting in deeper. I was panicking and paddling like crazy.

"When it got up to my waist I stopped trying. The mud set like concrete around me and I was trapped. I wasn't sinking any more but I couldn't move."

Mr Howlett began screaming for help but his shouts were lost in wind and driving rain. "The rain was coming down in buckets and it was freezing cold. I just tried to keep still and keep myself warm," he said. "I kept shouting 'Help. For God's sake someone get me out.' By this time the dawn was breaking and I was worried that the tide was coming in. I had my back to the sea so I couldn't see it but I knew it couldn't be long."

A farmer, Anthony Gardner, 54, eventually heard his screams and called the police. Mr Gardner, his wife and PC Ian Nickson fought in vain for 20 minutes to pull him out with a rope before calling in reinforcements.

Mr Howlett next remembers being surrounded by people as fire, police and paramedic crews worked with the "Mud Team" from Arnside coastguards to pull him free as the tide raced in. "I suddenly noticed there was water everywhere," he said.

Mr Howlett was treated in hospital for hypothermia and shock.