‘Unfathomable accident’: Girl dies, boy injured when hole in sand collapses on beach

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. — A young girl died and a boy was injured on Tuesday when a 5- to 6-foot deep hole they were digging at a South Florida beach collapsed and buried them both, authorities said.

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The children were digging the hole on the beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when it collapsed shortly before 3 p.m. EST, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Sheriff’s office identifies siblings

Update 2:08 p.m. ET Feb. 21: The children have been identified as 7-year-old Sloan Mattingly, who died, and her brother, 9-year-old Maddox Mattingly, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. According to the sheriff’s office, the children were on vacation and were visiting from Indiana, WPLG-TV reported.

The family was from Fort Wayne, according to WPTA-TV.

Lafayette Meadows Elementary School Principal Jenny Fedele shared a message with the families of students at the children’s school that described the girl as “a bright, sweet, loving 1st grade student, the television station reported.


— Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Original report: The girl was about 7 years old and the boy was about 8, according to Sandra King, a spokesperson for Pompano Beach Fire Rescue.

Paramedics dug the two children out of the sand and the girl was taken to the Broward Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, the Miami Herald reported. She was pronounced dead at the hospital, King told reporters.

It was unclear whether an adult was helping the children dig the hole, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The boy was buried up to his chest and the girl was completely submerged in the sand underneath him, WFOR-TV reported. It was unclear how long the girl was buried in the sand, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

“It was an unfathomable accident,” King said, according to the Herald.

Firefighters used tools like shovels and supportive boards in an attempt to reach the girl without the hole further collapsing on her, the newspaper reported.

The child was not breathing when she was pulled from the sand, and paramedics attempted life-saving measures as she was taken to the hospital, according to the Herald.

The boy was taken to an area hospital by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and was in stable condition, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

It was unclear if the children were residents or were visiting from out of town, WSVN-TV reported.

An investigation by the sheriff’s office is ongoing, King told reporters.

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