Kids, 7 and 8, digging on Florida beach get swallowed by sand, onlookers frantically try to save them

A beach day tragedy unfolded in Florida Tuesday when two young siblings became buried by the sand.

(Video: CBS News Miami)

One child is dead after witnesses and first responders were seen rushing into action on the beach in the town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. There a seven-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother were said to have been digging a hole, some five- to six-feet-deep, along with adults when the walls collapsed and buried them.

“It was an unfathomable accident,” said Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King to the Miami Herald.

Cellphone footage shared to CBS News Miami showed as frantic efforts were made to rescue the children when the collapse occurred shortly after 3 p.m. trapping the boy up to his chest and completely burying his sister.

One eyewitness had told WPLG Local 10 that the father had been able to pull the boy out but the girl was said to have remained covered for around 15 minutes. Both were rushed to the hospital and King reported, “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.”

Image via cell phone footage

A local resident of 50 years told CBS News that she had “never seen anything like that.”

“I’m shocked. I’m absolutely shocked,” she went on. “I had no idea that digging a — that something could happen where it could collapse underneath someone just hanging out and playing on the beach.”

According to a 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there were at least 52 incidents accounted for in the ten-year span leading up to the analysis, both deadly and non-deadly.

Conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Bradley Maron, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation’s Dr. Barry Maron and registered nurse Tammy Haas, the study found, “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.”

On X, town officials released a statement that read, “Our hearts are heavy in LBTS today after learning two children were trapped in the sand. We are doing everything we can to support our first responders. If you have any questions, please contact the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Here is the statement BSO has released…”

“At approximately 3:16 p.m., Broward County Regional Communications received a call reporting two children trapped in the sand near 4424 El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea,” the statement read. “Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, and Pompano Beach Fire Rescue responded immediately. On Scene, emergency personnel located the two children, a young boy and girl. Both were taken to hospitals for treatment. The investigation into this incident is ongoing.”

Kevin Haggerty

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