Teen Killed in Outer Banks When Sand Dune Collapses

Trapped him in a hole that had been dug into the side
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Outer Banks Sand Dune Collapse Kills Teen
Stock photo of Outer Banks sand dunes.   (Getty Images / pabradyphoto)

A 17-year-old boy visiting North Carolina's Outer Banks from Virginia died when a hole dug into the side of a sand dune collapsed on top of him Saturday. "At approximately 2pm, seashore law enforcement rangers responded to a 911 call regarding a teenager trapped in a hole," Cape Hatteras National Seashore says in a statement. "Prior to arriving on scene, family and friends went looking for the teenager and found him buried under several feet of sand, apparently caused by portions of the adjacent dune collapsing into the hole. Rangers worked with family members to extract the teen while simultaneously performing CPR," but he was pronounced dead at the scene, the News & Observer reports.

Beachgoers often dig holes in the sand for fun, but the National Park Service warns against doing so, as they can be dangerous. In addition to potential collapses, they can fill with water at high tide and trap children or animals; if sea turtle nestlings are trapped in a hole when they hatch, they can die, the Virginian-Pilot reports. Such holes can also cause emergency vehicles driving on the sand to get stuck. It's not clear who dug the hole in this case, but the park says it had been "dug in a back-dune area behind the primary dune and not visible from the beachfront." (Another teen died last year in New Jersey when the hole he was digging with his sister in the sand collapsed.)

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