I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again this year. Not that the topic is not important, but I’ve written about it several times before, and there’s no need to exhaust and annoy readers with the same thing over and over again. And why inject gloom and fear into what so many consider summer’s paradise, the beach? So I wouldn’t write about it again. Anyway, I figured the word has been spread sufficiently by now.
Then I heard about the death of a teenager in Florida. He was digging a tunnel in the sand of Panama City Beach when it caved in on him and ended his young life. His will not be the last life crushed out by the silent power of a slithering mass of beach sand. Evidently the word has not been spread sufficiently after all.
The subject was covered pretty well after a near-tragedy happened in my family 9 years ago. It was reported on CBS, written about in Reader’s Digest, and written about by me in the Ledger-Enquirer, so you may be aware. I wish more were. I’ll try to be brief:
One of my grandsons, just 3 years old, vacationing with his family at Santa Rosa Beach in Florida, fell into a hole left on the beach by previous diggers. He was standing with his parents and other relatives. One moment he was there, the next moment he’d disappeared as if by magic. Frantic searches of the beach and the water yielded nothing. Then a young woman noticed an indentation in the sand and began digging. Soon she touched a mass of curls buried beneath the surface. Others joined the digging until the child’s father was able to pull him from the grave, miraculously alive. A hurried trip to the hospital and a thorough examination revealed no permanent physical injury, although he’d been buried for several minutes, long enough that it was surprising he’d not suffocated.
When my wife and I got the phone call, the boy had already been found and pronounced OK, so our shock and fear were diluted by that knowledge. The child’s parents and his twin, however, could not so easily shake off the impact of the sudden loss that had seemed certain to be permanent. The pain remains to this day, along with undying gratitude for the miracle.
So many are not so blessed. Too many parents have suffered the worst pain any parent can imagine, the knowledge that their child has died. And died an unnecessary death. Even if the victim is an adult, as has sometimes been the case, the awfulness of any death, but especially such a gasping, suffocating death, is unbearable. Yet it must be borne.
Beach sand deaths are more prevalent than shark attacks, but not so eye-catching. So we need to pass the word. Holes dug on the beach should not be deep enough to engulf anybody, even the smallest. That takes some fun out of the digging, but death is a severe price for a bit of fun in the sand. Holes must be filled before leaving them. Trenches and tunnels are risky in the most stable soils. Dug in beach sand, they are incredibly dangerous.
Other than an initially lingering fear of closed-in spaces that apparently has now subsided, my grandson seems to have suffered no ill effects from his near disaster. Indeed, he has thrived. The curly-haired tot once buried in darkness just last month turned twelve, now wears a size 10 ½ shoe, has a voice almost at deep as mine, and can pretty much meet me at eye level when we talk. He is energetic, competitive, interested in a thousand things, and ready to take on the world. Yet but for the miracle, he might be an adored and agonizing memory, a mass of potential never to be realized.
If you or your relatives or acquaintances go to the beach this summer, I wish you much pleasure. Don’t let the pleasure turn to horror. We were lucky. Don’t count on it.
Robert B. Simpson, a 28-year Infantry veteran who retired as a colonel at Fort Benning, is the author of “Through the Dark Waters: Searching for Hope and Courage.”
ANOTHER RECENT INCIDENT BELOW:
My name is Amanda Herrington. Tarah and Alan Wyatt are my husband and I’s best friends and their family is currently living through hell.
(6/8/16) at approx 2:30pm, Dave and Tarah/Alan’s son Travor was in an accident on the beach in Panama City Beach, FL while on vacation with his friend and his family. A tunnel that was dug in some sand dunes collapsed on him and left him without oxygen. He is currently in the hospital on life support in critical condition. He currently shows no brain activity. Tarah, Alan, and Dave have been driving all night to get to their son as he is fighting for his life. Their other 4 children remain in Oklahoma praying for their brother’s life.
Here is a news post on the story.http://www.newson6.com/story/32185722/broken-arrow-teen-injured-after-sand-collapses-on-florida-beach
My request is that if you have it in your heart, please donate whatever you can to help pay for everything they may face during this trial. That current list includes medical expenses. travel expenses, loss of work, and eventually the cost of transporting Travor back to Oklahoma to, what we hope, will be a road of recovery for him. If you cannot donate financially, please pray. Pray for a miracle. Pray for comfort for this family.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – Law enforcement officials in Florida say an Oklahoma teenager has died two days after the walls of a hole he dug in the sand collapsed on him.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports on social media that 17-year-old Travor Brown died at Panama City hospital Friday.
The News Herald reports that Brown was visiting the area with friends. On Wednesday, beachgoers told Bay County Sheriff’s deputies they’d seen a couple of teens digging in a sand bank at St. Andrews State Park. Later, they noticed a teen’s feet sticking out of the sand and started digging him out