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Collapsing Sand Tunnel Kills Cape Hatteras National Seashore Visitor


A Virginia man died at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina when a sand tunnel he was digging collapsed, covering him with five-six feet of sand.

Seashore officials say David Frasier, 49, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, was trying to link two large holes dug into the beach north of Ramp 27 with a tunnel. "EMS and rescue personnel arrived on scene as the victim was being pulled from the sand by family, friends, and by-standers. Resuscitation efforts began immediately," the seashore reported in a press release. "The victim had been buried for approximately 10 minutes prior to resuscitation efforts. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead on scene."

The accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. Monday.

While building sand castles is a long-standing and renowned activity on beaches, trying to dig tunnels deep into the sand or at the base of dunes can be dangerous. Cape Hatteras officials note that, "When the sand is wet, it is easy to dig deep, but when the exposed sand dries from the sun and wind, the sides collapse very quickly. The sand caving in can be quite heavy. Much like a person swept away in an avalanche, the compression and snow, or sand in this case, quickly suffocates a person. A general rule of thumb is to not dig deeper than your knees."

If you do dig holes, it's best to fill them in before you leave for the day, as someone walking the beach after sundown could stumble into the holes and injure themselves.

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