Death Highlights Dangers of Sand Tunnels at the Beach

PHOTO: ts important to be careful when digging holes and tunnels in the sand when you visit the beach.
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A California man's death after being trapped inside a collapsed sand tunnel is drawing attention to sand safety as America's summer tourism season swings into full gear.

Adam Pye, 26, died Monday at Francis State Beach. He dug a 10-foot-deep hole and climbed into it, when the tunnel collapsed.

“The girls came out of their tunnel, his tunnel caved in and they turned around and said, “where’s Adam, where’s Adam?’” said Kevin Pye, the victim’s father.

Dozens of beach-goers frantically used their hands, buckets, anything they could, trying to get to Pye.

But it was too late.

The death was especially difficult for Pye’s relatives given his recent college graduation.

“He graduated to say, ‘Mom, finally, now I have some time, I can rest,’” said his mother, Debra Pye.

Similar situations have been reported on American beaches in previous years. In 2011, it took firefighters 27 minutes to rescue Matt Mina, then 17, in Huntington Beach, California, after the walls of a sand tunnel collapsed on him.

“I went to sleep. I thought I was gonna die,” Mina said later.

A 12-year-old New Jersey boy died in 2012 after becoming trapped in a tunnel he dug with his brother.

Sand’s crumbling, shifting nature contributes to the hazards of cave-ins. Victims such as Pye have been covered in seconds, the sand making it difficult to breathe.

Safety experts say beach-goers should keep two things in mind when digging a hole at the beach -- to keep the hole about knee-deep at most and to cover the hole before you leave the beach.

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