Building castles, tunnels and roadways out of sand is something most of us do with the kids every time we visit the beach.
But this seemingly harmless and fun summer activity may cost father-of-three Lee Goggin his life.
Lee, 35, was digging a tunnel at the beach with his family when the sand collapsed, trapping him underneath. He went into cardiac arrest before rescuers could reach him and is now on life support in hospital.
The Texas man and his family were visiting a beach in Florida, USA when Lee decided to dig a tunnel in the sand near the dunes. As his kids – Jace, 4, Colton, 2 and Rylee, 8 months – and wife, Courtney frolicked nearby, Lee dug his tunnel by hand.
Beach trip ends in tragedy
However, around 1.40pm, in a freak accident, the tunnel and surrounding sand dunes, ranging from three to five metres high, collapsed on Lee. His family called for help and attempted to dig him out but the sand was too thick and they couldn’t find him.
After about 30 minutes of digging, a crew from St. Johns County Fire Rescue uncovered Lee, who was in cardiac arrest, and swiftly transported him to a nearby hospital.
The father now fights for his life in critical condition with his family by his side.
“He has a heartbeat, but he is not breathing on his own,” Lee’s sister, Rachel, explains. “The next 24 hours will be very critical for him [as doctors] begin the reboot process which will begin to warm his body. We continue to ask for prayers for strength for Lee’s body to fight harder than he ever has and come back.”
The family have set up a GoFundMe account to help Lee’s family get through this incredibly unexpected and difficult time.
Warning: Don’t dig near dunes
The incident has acted as a stark reminder of just how dangerous it can be to dig near the dunes.
Many beach goers are not aware of the potential dangers of sand dunes. But Surf Life Saving Australia warns that, in addition to being cautious of the dangers of rip currents, unpredictable waves and dangerous marine creatures, sand can also pose a threat.
This isn’t the first time a trip to the beach has turned into a tragedy. Back in 2004, a 10-year-old boy died after a sand dune collapsed on him in New South Wales.
A similar case occurred in Oregon when a nine-year-old girl died after digging a hole at the beach. The little girl jumped into the hole to check its depth when the sand collapsed. She was pulled unconscious just five minutes later and could not be revived.
For more about summer safety, check our article about the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.