May 18, 2022

Expect sand to collapse.

1. "A Utah teenager died after getting trapped while digging a tunnel in a sand dune, state officials said. Ian Spendlove, 13, was declared dead on Sunday, one day after the tunnel he was digging at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab unexpectedly collapsed as he was inside, Utah State Parks officials said Monday." (New York Post, published May 17th).

2. "An 18-year-old died and his sister was rescued after a hole they were digging in the sand at a New Jersey beach collapsed in on them Tuesday, police said. Levy Caverley, of Maine, died after the accident in Toms River on the Jersey Shore shortly after 4 p.m., police said in a statement." (NBC News, published yesterday).


Enigma said...

Expect mines dug through hard, hard rocks to collapse. They do. Mines are often barricaded or have "Do Not Enter" warning signs. But, people go into them and either fall in a pit or get crushed.

Expect people to be stupid.

iowan2 said...

Where were the adults? I would have at least talked to kids. Asked if he parents were close, and explained that sand is engineered to collapse. But we are conditioned to mind our own business, and I do...unless its dangerous.
Our daughter ran cross country,(not well, but she loved the camaraderie). Golf courses often hosted the meets. At one, I noticed several girls walking bare foot across the putting green.
I walked over to them, and explained the greens are treated with chemicals constantly, to keep an assortment of disease, fungus, weeds, and insects at bay. That the soles of the feet are major entry points for those products. They looked at me like the "get off my lawn" grump. I told them they are free to make their own informed decision, and moved on.

Shawn Levasseur said...

Careful in these comments everyone. That second story cuts closer than you think.

That 18-year-old who died on the New Jersey shore was my nephew, Levi Caverly. (the wire story misspelled his name)

Richard said...

There are some sandy beaches and parks on the Lake Michigan shore of Indiana. tThis sort of thing has happened there, as well.

JustSomeOldDude said...

Something we learn playing Minecraft is not as readily apparent to young minds out having fun. I'd not expect parents to have to supervise young adults, and kids are digging in the beach sand all the time. Adults do really stupid things that kill them, and there's no reason to suspect that younger folk are any less susceptible to such mortality. The problem is almost always just not thinking things through.

Eleanor said...

As an engineer I knew a lot about fun things you can do that can kill you. As a teacher I tried to share a lot of that knowledge with my students. Like conservation of momentum and how mixing two beneficial chemicals together can create a new one that will kill you. But the reality is a teacher can only cure ignorance, and knowing something can kill you is not enough to keep some people from doing it. Three year olds playing at the beach delight at watching sand collapse on itself. Boys and young men often don't accept their own mortality as soon as girls and young women do. While being willing to accept a higher level of risk is often advantageous, someone has to work with high voltage hanging from a pole, it also means we lose more young men to risky behavior. Teaching them what's risky, unfortunately, is often an invitation to try it.

Ann Althouse said...

You have my sympathy, Shawn.

MadisonMan said...

I think the compulsion to dig in sand is universal. Who here hasn't done this at some point?

@Shawn, this is a terrible thing for your family. I'm sorry.

Jeremy said...

Just how big were these holes? Everyone digs holes at the beach, but most people don’t die in them. I’d like to know what were the conditions there that made these particular holes dangerous.

Howard said...

Going underground is a calling for some young men. There but for the grace of God go I. Goe easy bros.

When I was a kid in the mid to late 60's, there was a field a few blocks away where kids had drug tunnels through the hard clay soil. After telling my parents about it, my dad came out to inspect it and deemed it safe, so we used to play army there.

In highschool we would drive up to Santa Suzanna pass and hike up into the old Spahn Ranch to a place called the Manson Caves or Stoners Den. It was a labyrinth of narrow twisting passages and a long slide between two blinders no more than 18-inches apart. The den itself was the size of a small living room. On one side, someone carved a pipe in a boulder.

When I was a young field geologist in Eastern California, Nevada and Utah, I would spend off hours exploring old mines usually by myself Lots of bats and huge guano piles. Lots of times you would have to climb over piles of fault gouge to get to the end of a drift. I had a rule never to climb down a shaft if you couldn't see the bottom with a flashlight. One shaft out of Milford UT I dropped a bowling ball size rock and counted ten seconds before it hit the bottom. Once in a while some roughnecks would join in a mine exploration, but never twice.

Remember the caves in The Lost Boys? These were based on the limestone caves up by the upper UCSC campus. There were rumors these caves extended all the way to the beach and we're buried by riprap.

About 15 years ago, at Natural Bridges State Beach some people dug a 6-foot cave into the side of a sandy slope. One day, three young boys were playing in it when in collapsed. One got out, one was critical and the 11-yo birthday boy died.

It's in our DNA.

Ice Nine said...

>>after the tunnel he was digging...unexpectedly collapsed as he was inside<<

"Unexpectedly"? What, these kids never played in a sandbox; never noticed the friability of their beach sand sculptures; never observed in a movie/TV the high danger of tunneling? Even if these were their first encounters with sand it should have been readily apparent that sand is not stable. It's a pity but teenagers doing dumb things is nothing new. Here's what is now expectable: "Remove box before cooking pizza" level warning signs springing up on beaches and dunes everywhere.

Joe Smith said...

I can't imagine this happening on level ground. Digging into a hillside or dune? Sure. Very odd.

Sorry Shawn : (

Mary Martha said...

Shawn - my condolences.

At the Indiana Dunes you don't even need to be digging a hole or tunnel, occasionally holes just collapse as you are hiking on the dunes.

Be careful out there!

JK Brown said...

A quandary, as I am someone loath to call the police on others for non-criminal issues as any police interaction can go bad quickly if the person isn't submissive to the cop, but after informing someone of their folly, I see no other recourse if they need to be made to stop for their safety. But what if you called, and the person was beaten or killed by the police for resisting?

TaeJohnDo said...

When I was a kid at Wheelus AB in Libya, we kids age ranging from 4 up to HS age dug extensive structures of tunnels and trenches in the sand on the beach. I look back on this and it is a wonder none of us were ever injured or killed.

Shawn, thoughts and prayers for Levi, and his family and friends.

TaeJohnDo said...

When I was a kid at Wheelus AB in Libya, we kids age ranging from 4 up to HS age dug extensive structures of tunnels and trenches in the sand on the beach. I look back on this and it is a wonder none of us were ever injured or killed.

Shawn, thoughts and prayers for Levi, and his family and friends.

Gospace said...

Sand collapse is a common cause of death and injury. Lots of OSHA rules and regs on digging simple ditches- which entrap people every year.

Sand has no structural strength. Yet, people rely on it holding up. Even after watching how easily it washed away or collapses. Saw a gif just today on how easy it is to undermine sand.
Luckily- a funny ending, not disastrous.

cf said...

Every blessing on your family now, Shawn Levasseur.

They were seeking out their joy, as all us complicated humans seek to do. The testimony of the ages says there's more Good to come. This, for example:

"No weapon can pierce the soul; no fire can burn it; no water can moisten it; nor can any wind wither it....The soul is immutable, all-permeating, ever calm, and immovable — eternally the same. The soul is said to be imponderable, unmanifested, and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing it to be such, thou shouldst not lament"
(Bhagavad Gita II:23-25).

TheOne Who Is Not Obeyed said...

"Unexpectedly" seems gratuitous. I would hope the man would not have been in his hole if he expected it to collapse.