I Survived Getting Partially Swallowed by Quicksand on the Beach. Here's How I Got Lucky

"I just went straight down and was completely covered from my waist down in wet cement-like sand"

<p>Jamie Acord</p> (L-R) Jamie and Patrick Acord at Popham Beach State Park on June 19, 2024

Jamie Acord

(L-R) Jamie and Patrick Acord at Popham Beach State Park on June 19, 2024

As a resident of Poland, Maine, Jamie Acord regularly visits Popham Beach State Park, which is just a short drive from the home that she shares with husband Patrick. Popham Beach was one of her late father's favorite places, so she and her family would go there on the anniversary of his death. "It's just one of the nice beaches to visit, not super touristy," she says.

But her recent trip to the park on June 1 was particularly memorable for different reasons: while she and her husband were walking on the beach that day, Jamie unexpectedly fell waist-deep into the sand. Fortunately, Patrick was able to quickly pull Jamie out, who emerged with only minor scratches. Park officials later said a series of winter storms in Maine had shifted river water to the sand where visitors were most apt to walk on, which caused the collapse.

After getting back home, Jamie shared what happened to her on social media to inform family and friends to be careful while walking the beach, and the news of her experience attracted media attention. Here, in her own words, Jamie talks about her experience, as told to PEOPLE's David Chiu.

On June 1, we got to Popham Beach around 3:30 or 4 p.m. We'd stayed there for a few hours, but were heading back because you can only stay on the beach until sunset

We pick up trash every time we go to the beach. It's something I've always done with my kids: we'll leave the beach better than we found it. Our bag was pretty much full that day when it was time to head home.

Patrick and I were walking side by side, so you couldn't have put another foot in between us – that's how close we were. Then, around 6:30 p.m., I fell into the sand, and because I am about 5 '4”, I was submerged up to my waist.

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I think it was one of those things where neither one of us really thought about the entire situation. It wasn't like, “Should I pull you out?” or “If I go to pull you out, will I fall in?” I was like, "I don't want to be here, I can't get a footing. I can feel my feet, but I can't feel the ground to get a footing and I'm not enjoying this.”

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Patrick turned around and asked, "Where are your legs?" I was like, "I don't know, but I can't get out and I need you to pull me out." So he just reached down and pulled me out. It only took about 30 seconds to a minute. We turned around to see what I stepped in, what I fell in, and there was nothing there, it looked just like regular beach.

<p>courtesy Jamie Acord</p> (L-R) Jamie and Patrick Acord on June 1, 2024

courtesy Jamie Acord

(L-R) Jamie and Patrick Acord on June 1, 2024

I had a couple of scratches on my feet and my leg, but I don't know if it's from when I went in or when Patrick pulled me out. But at that moment, I think I was more in shock than anything. It's like stepping into a ball pit that really only goes so far. I didn't hit anything hard, I didn't land on anything. I think if I had hit bottom, that probably would've hurt. But I just went straight down and was completely covered from my waist down in wet cement-like sand.

I never thought I was going to die. Oddly enough, my brain went, “Well, you're on the high tide waterline, the tide won't go above your head. You might get a little drink or two of some salt water, but at least I'm up high enough.” Had I been alone and on the low water line, had there been nobody else on the beach and the tide was coming in, I might have been screwed because where that area is, there's no cell service, Even if it could have got to my phone, there is no calling anybody.

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Originally, I thought maybe it was a hole some kids had dug and filled back in poorly. But if that's what it was, I wouldn't have sunk that far. They would've put the sand in it, even if they hadn't packed it. My walking on it would've packed it, and then I would've tripped almost and landed on my face.

It was a very surreal moment. I didn't really know how to feel and just kept saying, "I can't believe I fell in." I'm 47. I've been going to that beach since I was a kid. It's never ever happened before, not even close.

<p>courtesy Jamie Acord</p> Jamie Acord at Popham Beach State Park on June 1, 2024

courtesy Jamie Acord

Jamie Acord at Popham Beach State Park on June 1, 2024

Right after Patrick pulled me out, a husband and wife and their daughter walked past us and I gave them a heads up.

And when we got to the parking lot and the bathhouses, the park ranger and a lifeguard were there. So I told them what happened. They're like, "Yeah, we've had some reports of quicksand, but nothing like what you're describing." And I went, "Okay, well, it happened."

The ranger said because of the massive flooding last year, the river now curls around the front of the beach, making the sand super saturated.

At first, I didn't tell anybody what happened when we returned home.  My husband and I joked about it in the house. But probably a day and a half later, I shared what happened to me on social media. All of my friends go to Popham and they have much younger children or grandkids. So if you're taking your small children, that's going to be a scary thing. I was like, “All right, I'll just do a little PSA. I'll put it on my Facebook page and I'll put it on the Popham Beach page."

<p>Jamie Acord</p> Jamie Acord returned to Popham Beach on June 19, 2024

Jamie Acord

Jamie Acord returned to Popham Beach on June 19, 2024

I don't know what happened, but the news of my fall went global. People were like, "My God, are you serious? And then another lady was like, "That happened to my daughter in February."

The media attention completely blows and baffles my mind. I have a girlfriend who lives in England and was on a Facebook hiatus. But she jumped back on to connect with her mom groups. She was like, “I got on Facebook, and lo and behold but whose face do I see from across the pond?” And then I have a friend who's a writer, and she was like, "My God, my friends in Germany and Switzerland, they know the story." It's kind of funny.

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After the experience, I wouldn't go to the beach alone. That's definitely something I used to enjoy doing. But my takeaway is don't let it deter you from going back at all.

There are always going to be dangers in everything you want to do. The likelihood of it happening twice is probably pretty slim. I'm not going to stop what I like doing just because that happened.

<p>Jamie Acord</p> A new sign at Popham Beach State Park warning visitors about soft sand, after Jamie Acord fell into sand on June 1, 2024

Jamie Acord

A new sign at Popham Beach State Park warning visitors about soft sand, after Jamie Acord fell into sand on June 1, 2024

On June 19, we returned to Popham Beach for the first time since the incident. I went with Patrick, my daughter and her friend. At the end of the night, we even went back to the area where I fell earlier in the month.

I was a little apprehensive every time we walked on the sand – I thought, “Am I gonna fall in again?” But overall, we had a good time, and I didn't fall in.

There was a new sign on the walking path that offered tips on what to do if you are trapped in sand. I was amused – I had my husband take a picture of the sign. I was like, “I did that. Look what I did.”

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