6-year-old boy in critical condition after being buried alive in sand at Indiana Dunes
By CAROLE CARLSON firstname.lastname@example.org July 12, 2013 10:05PM
Updated: July 13, 2013 10:18PM
A 6-year-old boy who spent more than three hours underground after being swallowed up by the collapse of a massive Indiana sand dune probably survived thanks to an air pocket in the sand at Mount Baldy in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan City, Ind., Fire Chief Ronnie Martin said.
The boy remained in critical condition Saturday at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital but was responsive, a hospital spokeswoman said.
“When he arrived, he was able to respond to simple commands, and he has responded well to mechanical ventilation,” spokeswoman Lorna Wong said.
The boy’s name and hometown have not been released at the request of his family, she said.
The boy’s family has withheld his identity.
Park crews have closed Mount Baldy, a towering dune off U.S. 12 just west of Michigan City, Ind., in the wake of the sinkhole collapse that pulled the boy into the sand.
The section of the dune, which is more than 125 feet high, had been cordoned off for restoration work. It will remain closed at least through the weekend and until authorities can determine if it’s still a danger.
Rescuers needed heavy equipment to dig through the sand to find the boy, who disappeared around 4:30 p.m. Friday during a family outing.
Park spokesman Bruce Rowe said the boy was found 11 feet below the surface after three and a half hours of digging.
Family members told authorities they saw the boy in the hole, about 10 feet deep, as it began to collapse but before it buried him, but they were unable to rescue him.
After the boy was pulled out, he was breathing, Martin said.
“One of my boys said the boy actually cried,” Martin said.
The collapse was unprecedented, according to park officials. “I’ve never heard of such a thing at the park, and I’ve been working here since 1991,” Rowe said.
Wong, the Comer spokeswoman, said the boy’s family wanted to express its gratitude to the emergency responders and everyone else who helped in his rescue.
“They also ask that people include this little boy in their prayers,” she said.
The hole was on a rise about 75 yards from the Lake Michigan beach.