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Florida beach sand hole collapses, killing girl

Investigators take photos of a sand avalanche on a beach in Lauderdale, Florida, on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

Mike Stock/Associated Press

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Mike Stock/Associated Press

Investigators take photos of a sand avalanche on a beach in Lauderdale, Florida, on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

Mike Stock/Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A 7-year-old Indiana girl and her brother were digging a sand cave on a Florida beach when the cave collapsed and killed her, an ignored danger that causes injuries every year. Several children were killed and injured across the country.

Sloan Mattingly was on a beach in Fort Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when a 4- to 5-foot-deep (1 to 1.5 meters) hole collapsed on her and her 9-year-old brother Maddo on Tuesday afternoon. In the case of Maddox, he died. The boy was buried up to his chest, but the girl was completely covered. Video taken by a bystander showed about 20 adults trying to dig her out with their hands and plastic buckets, but the hole kept collapsing in on itself.

There were no lifeguards on the beach in Fort Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small enclave north of Fort Lauderdale, so no professionals were available to help immediately. The first deputies arrived about four minutes after the collapse, and paramedics and firefighting personnel also arrived shortly after. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office initially said Sloan was 5 years old, according to a 911 call released Wednesday by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Her brother is 7 years old.

Wails of pain could be heard in the background of emergency calls as onlookers tried in vain to rescue Sloane. Two of the callers claimed to be registered nurses, but there was nothing they could do.

A nurse told the operator: “There’s a little girl buried under the sand and they haven’t found her yet.”

“There was a whole circle of men trying to dig out the sand,” another sobbing woman told the dispatcher.

Rescuers took over bystanders, used shovels to dig out the sand and used boards to stabilize the hole, but when they reached the girl, she had no pulse, Pompano Beach Fire Department spokesperson Sandra King said. . Paramedics immediately began resuscitation, but Sloan was pronounced dead at the hospital. The extent of the boy’s injuries has not been released.

King said the children’s parents were so distraught that the caregivers treating the children had to take off work.

“It’s a very, very horrific scene. Imagine that one minute your child is playing in the sand and a few seconds later your little girl is buried and her life is in danger,” said King, whose department Serviced in Fort Lauderdale. ocean.

News reports and a 2007 medical study indicate that about three to five children die each year in the United States when sand pits dug at beaches, parks or at home collapse. Others were seriously injured and required CPR to survive.

The dead include a 17-year-old boy who was buried on a North Carolina beach last year, a 13-year-old boy who was dug in the dunes of a Utah state park and an 18-year-old boy. Digging on the New Jersey beach with my sister. These two accidents occurred in 2022.

The New England Journal of Medicine study concluded: “The risk of this event is highly deceptive because it is associated with recreational settings that are not typically considered hazardous.”

Lifeguards say parents need to be careful when letting their children dig holes on the beach so they don’t dig too deep.

Patrick Barford, a lifeguard manager in Clearwater, Fla., said his staff warns families if the hole is too big, but sometimes they don’t notice it in time.

He said: “We’ve had incidents where people have narrowly escaped death or died from collapses. You want them to have a good time, but there’s a difference between fun and the danger they might face. It’s really important for people It’s hard to understand that beaches can be dangerous. Regardless, bad things can still happen. Please use good judgment.”

“Many people don’t consider the risks of allowing children to dig deep or wide holes,” said Shawn DeRosa, who runs a company that trains lifeguards.

“They knew the sand could slide and the walls could collapse, but they didn’t seem to have imagined that their children would be buried in the sand so quickly,” he said. “They also didn’t realize the real challenges of getting a child born.” Once the collapse occurs, get out of the sand. “

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