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Teenage boy buried alive at Newport Beach

August 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A teenage boy got trapped under a huge mound of sand at Newport Beach on Wednesday.

Authorities say he was buried for 25 minutes in a hole estimated to be almost 7 feet deep. Dirk Vander Wall was one of the rescuers who jumped in to help.

"It was very frantic," said Vander Wall. "We knew somebody was buried there. We didn't know how old the person was. But as we kept digging it was longer and longer, it took a long time, you just start thinking it couldn't be going well."

Earlier the teen had dug the hole, when the walls caved in and buried him alive.

Nearby lifeguards began digging the teen out with the help of beachgoers assisting with buckets, boards and other tools.

"He was down there for a long time," said lifeguard Capt. Mike Halphide. "And he was buried so deep. When they kept digging deeper I was worried they had missed the victim, but he was literally 7 feet underground."

Newport firefighters arrived and finally got the teen out. Fire officials say this type of incident is one they train for.

"Our firefighters have experienced this before in the past, it has happened," said Jennifer Schultz from Newport Fire Department. "They actually did training this year on this particular situation."

A backhoe was brought in to fill-in the gaping hole. For beachgoers-turned-rescuers it was a day at the beach they'll never forget.

"I think we were all scared and wanting the best of the situation," said Vander Wall.

The teen was taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out and is expected to be OK.

Fire officials want to warn the public that holes like this shouldn't be built because they are very unstable and deaths have resulted out of it.


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