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Six-year-old boy buried alive pulled to safety after three hours under eleven feet of sand

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's being called a miracle. A six-year-old boy has survived after being buried for three hours in sand at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Rescue workers, police and excavation crews worked frantically to pull him to safety. The boy was taken by helicopter to a Chicago hospital.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The boy, whose name has not yet been released, was reportedly found under 11 feet of sand in an area of the national park that was blocked for restoration.

While La Porte County Deputy Coroner Mark Huffman called the rescue "a miracle . He isn't out of the woods yet, but ... they found him," Huffman said. "He was under (the sand) for three hours or more. It's just amazing."

When family members found the young child in the Mount Baldy sand dune, he was already half-submerged. Along with bystanders, the boy's family tried unsuccessfully to dig the child out with their hands.

Local police, rescue crews rushed to the scene after the family made a 911 call. Shovels were at first used to move the sand, but the sides of the hole kept collapsing. Police then called two local excavating companies to the dune and, scoop by scoop, they managed to dig the boy out that evening.

Officials say the boy had somehow found a sinkhole. At 126 feet, Mount Baldy is the tallest moving sand dune at the Indiana park. Hiking to the summit of Mount Baldy is a popular activity and the National Park Service offers trail maps of the area to the public.

Lakeshore Ranger Bruce Rowe called the incident "baffling. I have never heard of anything like this here or at other sand dune parks," Rowe said. Working at the lakeshore since 1991, he remarked "I've never heard of anything like this on a sand dune."

Mount Baldy will remain closed during the weekend while authorities investigate what happened, Rowe said. "We won't let people on the dune again until we know what happened and whether it is safe for them."

Ryan Miller was one of the excavators called in to help in the rescue effort. "I was glad to be a part of it," he told reporters. "I'm going to go home and hug my kids tonight."

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