Cape Gazette

Man trapped in sand tunnel released from hospital

By Melissa Steele | Jul 06, 2012
Photo by: Chuck Snyder Lifeguards work to free a 24-year-old Oklahoma man after a tunnel he was digging collapsed on him July 5 on Rehoboth Beach.

A 24-year-old Oklahoma man has been released from Beebe Medical Center after a sand tunnel collapsed on him July 5.

The man had dug two holes about six feet apart that were connected by a tunnel on the beach off Delaware Avenue. He was trapped when the tunnel collapsed.

Delaney Steele, 14, her sister Evie Steele, 12, and friend Khat Bell, 14, all of Magnolia, were sitting near the tunnel before it collapsed.

"It was a big tunnel, and he was underneath the ground digging it out," Delaney said.

The girls were in the water when they saw a commotion on the shore about 2:28 p.m.

"Everyone got out and gathered around it," Delaney said. "The sand had totally covered him up."

Lars Granholm, lifeguard medic, said the man was covered by about 6 feet of sand. He was unconscious and not breathing when he was first found, he said.

It took 15 minutes for 15 lifeguards extricate him from the sand, Granholm said.

When lifeguards pulled the man from the sand, he was moving his feet and breathing as paramedics took him away, Delaney said.

Leonard Tylecki of the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Department said a rescue engine and ambulance responded to the scene and took the man to Beebe Medical Center. The man was conscious, responsive and following commands while paramedics transported him, Granholm said.

To prevent accidents, Rehoboth Beach police caution beachgoers against digging deep holes in the sand.

"Holes should be no deeper than the knees of the smallest person in the group," wrote Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith W. Banks in an email.

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