A 9-year-old girl trapped inside of a sand pit died Friday when the walls of the cave collapsed in around her, suffocating her within a matter of minutes. The young girl was visiting the Oregon coastal town of Lincoln City with her parents. The family is from Sandy, Oregon, located approximately 30 miles southeast of Portland.
Writes The Associated Press via Yahoo News: “Firefighters and police responded shortly after 5 p.m. Friday and found a group of people trying to dig the girl out, Lt. Jerry Palmer said. Officers helped extract the girl, who was identified Saturday as Isabel Grace Franks, from a large hole. Police began CPR after Isabel was pulled free, unconscious and not breathing. North Lincoln Fire and Rescue and ambulance medical teams took over CPR, and Isabel was taken to a hospital.”
Investigators said Isabel sat down inside of the sand pit to see how deep it was. Witness Tracey Dudley, who called 911, said she heard screams, and at first thought they were just children playing.
“At first we thought, you know, it was just kids, but it was like screaming and screaming and screaming,” Dudley said. “The people were digging and digging and digging, and it looked like the sand kept collapsing.”
The North Lincoln Fire Department responded and pulled an unconscious Isabel out. She was transported to the Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital but could not be revived.
“It was heart wrenching,” Dudley said. “You could see that people were trying and, I don't even know what to say. It was awful.”
Firefighter Jim Kusz from North Lincoln spoke on the toll a death takes on rescuers.
“This has happened before on the coast but it's a pretty rare event,” Kusz said. “When it's a call like this, when it's a young child that's either a drowning or any kind of accident like this that turns out to be a fatality, it's very hard on the responders, it's very hard on the community.”
The hole was approximately 4 foot deep. It’s unclear if the young girl dug the hole or discovered it herself. Officials have repeatedly warned about the suffocation dangers in digging a sand pit or cave and then getting inside. Dry sand weighs about 100 lbs. per cubic foot. Anyone digging a sand pit – which many beaches now prohibit – should always back fill it when leaving.