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PICTURED: Seven-year-old girl who died in Fort Lauderdale sand hole after being buried for 20 minutes as heartbroken father mourns daughter ‘full of love and life’


A seven-year-old girl who was killed after she and her brother became trapped in a sand hole they were digging at a Florida beach was ‘full of love and life,’ according to her heartbroken father.

Sloan Mattingly was pulled out from the sand after being buried for about 20 minutes after the sand collapsed on the siblings, according to officials. Her brother Maddox was rescued from the hole at the Lauderdale-by-the Sea beach and was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Their father Jason, 35, confirmed the little girl’s passing to Wane 15 and said she was seven years old. Broward police had previously said she was five.

The siblings, their dad and mom Therese, 36, were visiting from Fort Wayne, Indiana when tragedy struck on Tuesday.

An audio of the 911 call reporting the horrifying incident offers a glimpse into the frantic moments on Tuesday as over a dozen adults tried to save the siblings trapped in the sand. 

Sloan Mattingly died after being buried for about 20 minutes. Her heartbroken father said she was 'full of life'

Sloan Mattingly died after being buried for about 20 minutes. Her heartbroken father said she was ‘full of life’

Their father Jason confirmed the little girl's passing to Wane 15 and said she was seven years old. Broward police had previously claimed she was five

Their father Jason confirmed the little girl’s passing to Wane 15 and said she was seven years old. Broward police had previously claimed she was five

The family was visiting from Fort Wayne, Indiana when tragedy struck

The family was visiting from Fort Wayne, Indiana when tragedy struck

Their school back in Indiana, Lafayette Meadows Elementary School, issued a statement on Wednesday mourning Sloan

Their school back in Indiana, Lafayette Meadows Elementary School, issued a statement on Wednesday mourning Sloan

The siblings' parents often posted pictures of them enjoying themselves at the beach

The siblings’ parents often posted pictures of them enjoying themselves at the beach

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

Bystanders recorded the moments after the collapse showing 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.

Sloan did not have a pulse when she emerged from the sand and was declared dead at the hospital, according to officials. Her brother Maddox was seen walking outside the hospital on Wednesday. 

Their school back in Indiana, Lafayette Meadows Elementary School, issued a statement on Wednesday mourning Sloan.

The family is seen on another holiday a few years back in a photo posted to Facebook

The family is seen on another holiday a few years back in a photo posted to Facebook

The siblings' parents Jason and Therese are pictured above

The siblings’ parents Jason and Therese are pictured above

Maddox was seen walking outside the hospital on Wednesday. He's pictured with his little sister Sloan

Maddox was seen walking outside the hospital on Wednesday. He’s pictured with his little sister Sloan

Spokesperson for Pompano Beach Fire, Sandra King, told DailyMail.com that the adults who were with the children were too distraught to provide additional details at the scene

Spokesperson for Pompano Beach Fire, Sandra King, told DailyMail.com that the adults who were with the children were too distraught to provide additional details at the scene

Sloan with her dad Jason, who said she was 'full of life'

Sloan with her dad Jason, who said she was ‘full of life’

The statement read: ‘It is with a heavy heart that I write this letting you know we lost a precious member of the Lafayette Meadows school family. Sloan Mattingly was a bright, sweet, loving 1st grade student in Ms. Vanbrocklin’s class. Sloan passed away on Tuesday. We will be talking with Ms. Vanbrocklin’s class, as well as Ms. Kilbourne’s class, as Sloan’s brother is a member of that classroom, on Thursday. 

‘Our administration team and counselors have support resources available for any student or staff member who is in need during this time of loss. 

‘Please keep the Mattingly family in your thoughts and prayers. They have requested privacy at this time. We will pass along any further information the family wishes to share.’

Spokesperson for Pompano Beach Fire, Sandra King, told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that the adults who were with the children were too distraught to provide additional details at the scene.

She 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.

A girl who died after she was trapped in a sand hole she was digging at the beach was vacationing in Florida with her family from Indiana

A girl who died after she was trapped in a sand hole she was digging at the beach was vacationing in Florida with her family from Indiana 

People have been leaving tributes for the seven-year-old on the beach in Fort Lauderdale

People have been leaving tributes for the seven-year-old on the beach in Fort Lauderdale

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

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.

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 hole he was playing in collapsed and buried him. After an initial panic, the boy’s father was able to save 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

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 

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.



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