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Distressing moment frantic rescuers try to dig dying girl, 5, out of collapsed sand hole she was digging on Florida beach with boy, 7: Youngster later succumbed to her injuries


A five-year-old girl has died after the sand hole she was digging collapsed on top of her, with the moment frantic passersby tried to rescue her caught on camera. 

A seven-year-old boy was also trapped in the hole on the beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida, when it collapsed but he survived. 

Witnesses said the children were digging the hole and playing inside of it when the ground gave way. Mobile phone footage show the moment a crowd of desperate beachgoers started trying to dig them out before firefighters arrived.

Other children stood and watched as the dreadful scene unfolded before their eyes. 

They were both rushed to hospital but the girl was declared dead on arrival. Their identities have not yet been released and it is not known if they are related. It is also unclear who was looking after them at the time of the tragedy.

Spokesperson for Pompano Beach Fire, Sandra King, said the hole was about five to six feet deep when it collapsed leaving the boy buried up to his chest with the girl completely buried beneath him. 

Frantic passersby got on their knees and dug with their hands in a desperate attempt to reach the girl

Frantic passersby got on their knees and dug with their hands in a desperate attempt to reach the girl

Moments later, a group of adults was seen rushing one of the two children off the beach for medical attention, while other youngsters watched the horror unfold

Moments later, a group of adults was seen rushing one of the two children off the beach for medical attention, while other youngsters watched the horror unfold 

Discarded buckets and toys could be seen in the aftermath of the desperate rescue attempt

Discarded buckets and toys could be seen in the aftermath of the desperate rescue attempt

A crowd gathered to help try to dig the children out until the authorities arrived

A crowd gathered to help try to dig the children out until the authorities arrived 

King told the Florida Sun Sentinel that she didn’t know how long they were buried  but that when the girl was dug up, she didn’t have a pulse. 

She said: ‘We were conducting life-saving techniques to try to bring her pulse back, and it never did recover and she was pronounced dead at the hospital.’

She was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale where she was declared dead. 

The boy’s parents put him in a sheriff’s car and he was also taken to the hospital, where he remains in a stable condition. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if any adults were helping the children dig the hole or were playing in it with them.  

King said she does not know if the family is local or were visiting. She said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating. 

Broward Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics rushed to the beach at 3.16pm on Tuesday to the 4400 block of El Mar Drive.

In the aftermath of the collapse a crowd of people could be seen standing around the massive pit. 

Hauntingly, two buckets could be seen nearby. It’s unclear if these belonged to the children caught up in the collapse.  

Mobile phone footage of the minutes after the collapse showed people on their knees digging with their hands through the sand. 

Some tried to hold the walls back to stop more sand from collapsing in on the children. 

Aerial shots showed how wide the hole was after it collapsed on Tuesday afternoon

Aerial shots showed how wide the hole was after it collapsed on Tuesday afternoon

Authorities cordoned off the hole while the children were rushed to hospital

Authorities cordoned off the hole while the children were rushed to hospital 

Others used shovels and beach toys to scrape sand away from the hole.  

When authorities arrived they cordoned off the beach leaving the giant hole still half filled with discarded children’s buckets and spades lying by. 

Although sand hole deaths are very rare, they are not unheard of and there have been studies and warnings published about them.

Last week at Jersey Shore Beach, a toddler became trapped after a whole he was playing in collapsed and buried him. After an initial panic, the boy’s father was able to save him.

Last May, a 17-year-old boy died in the small resort town of Frisco, on the Outer Banks in Virginia after he became trapped in a hole that was dug in a back-dune area behind the beach’s primary dune along the Atlantic Ocean.

The teenager was buried under several feet of sand after an adjacent dune apparently collapsed into the hole.

After his death, a property management and vacation home company in the Outer Banks Seaside Vacations wrote a blog after a fatal sand collapse in the area about the dangers of digging holes at the beach. 

They said: ‘Sand is, by nature, structurally unstable. Beach erosion, storms, and the removal of sand can weaken the area, potentially causing issues even after the hole has been filled back in.’ 

They recommended never digging deeper than knee height, particularly not in an area with dunes. 

A young girl was pronounced dead on arrival but the young boy survived and is in a stable condition

A young girl was pronounced dead on arrival but the young boy survived and is in a stable condition

Sand hole deaths are rare but there have been a few in recent years

Sand hole deaths are rare but there have been a few in recent years

In 2022, Levi Caverly, 18, died after he and his 17-year-old sister became trapped when the sand collapsed on them inside a deep hole they were digging at the beach in Toms River. 

Levi died in the collapse while his sister was rescued alive. 

In 2012, another teen died after being trapped under a collapsed sand dune at Snow Canyon State Park, about 50 miles northwest of where Levi died. 

Also in 2022, a 35-year-old man was found dead with his feet sticking out of the sand along the Treasure Coast where he had leant on some sand before it collapsed on top of him. 

There were 52 deadly and non-deadly sand hole incidents between 1997 and 2007, according to a 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

The study said it was an uncommon and underrecognized hazard.

It said: ‘Typically, victims became completely submerged in the sand when the walls of the hole unexpectedly collapsed, leaving virtually no evidence of the hole or the location of the victim. 

‘Collapse was inadvertently triggered by a variety of circumstances, including digging, tunneling, jumping, or falling into the hole.’



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