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Beach hole collapses: Man dies as walls of sand cave in on him

A California man has died after the walls of a beach hole he had been digging in the sands of Francis State Beach at Half Moon Bay collapsed around him, quickly burying him alive. Authorities arriving at the seen found frantic friends and beachgoers attempting to extricate a young man who was completely buried in sand.

The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) July 22 that 26-year-old Adam Pye of San Lorenzo had dug a massive 10-foot hole in the beach and standing at the bottom of it around 5:30 p.m. (PST) when the sides suddenly gave way and began filling in the space he and some friends had vacated of sand. Within seconds, he was was completely covered.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. Jonathan Cox said that about 30 people had rushed to the young man's aid, using their hands, buckets, and whatever they could fashion into a digging tool to help get to the man's head. Even though the would-be rescuers managed to free Adam Pye's head after about five minutes, just when firefighters arrived on the scene, they found him already unresponsive.

"When they got there, they discovered he was unconscious," Cox said.

According to Cox, an additional 30 firefighters were called in to assist the initial responding team. It took about 35 minutes to extricate Pye from the collapsed beach hole. Although paramedics performed life support, they were unable to revive the man.

"I haven't personally ever seen anything quite like this," Cox said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "None of the firefighters at the scene had seen anything like it either. These types of calls are very hard to anticipate."

According to, Cal Fire was using the young man's death as a cautionary tale and an opportunity to inform the public about "hidden dangers associated with the beach."

Per a Cal Fire press release: “Remember to stay away from cliffs, use caution when swimming in big surf and refrain from digging too deeply in the sand."

According to Adam Pye's mother, Debbie, he had just graduated from Cal State East Bay with a degree in communications and was looking forward to starting a new job in southern California.

Francis State Beach is located approximately 30 miles southwest of San Francisco.

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