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Parents of 7-Year-Old Who Died in Sand Hole Have Desperate Plea for Other Parents

While vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida last month, Jason and Terese Mattingly suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when their daughter, Sloan Mattingly, was tragically buried alive by a sand hole that collapsed on top of her and her brother.

“It just became chaos and horror,” Terese told “Good Morning America.”

Their 7-year-old daughter Sloan Mattingly and 9-year-old son Maddox were digging in the sand when the hole they were digging collapsed on both of them. 

In a frantic 911 call from a bystander on the beach, emergency services were alerted that there’s a child buried in the sand and a “bunch of people were trying to dig.” 

Cellphone video from a witness showed desperate beachgoers using their hands to dig sand out of the hole as they tried to rescue the kids trapped underneath.

The bystander told the operator that the girl’s father was “yelling for help” and that his daughter was “caught in a hole in the sand”. 

“The mom’s yelling, ‘My daughter is in there,’” the caller added. “Everybody’s screaming.” Shouting from other people can be heard throughout the duration of the 911 call.

Sloan’s “whole body” was under the sand, and the bystander could not see her head. 

With help, Jason was able to pull Maddox out of the sand with injuries. 

When emergency crews arrived, they continued to scramble to pull her out of the sand. Sloan was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale where she was pronounced dead. She was buried for roughly 20 minutes.

When the 5-to-6ft-deep hole collapsed, the weight of the sand buried Sloan completely while her brother was buried up to his chest.

Sloan Mattingly and Beach Safety

Now, just mere weeks after losing their daughter in this horrific tragedy, the family is speaking out, hoping to spread awareness about beach safety ahead of spring break and the busy beach season. 

“When we go to the beach, we think of water safety. And this never, ever once crossed my mind,” Terese Mattingly told ABC News. 

Jason Mattingly told “Good Morning America” that the day had been “perfect” up until then.

“We were just relaxing,” Jason said. “We were just getting ready to end our day there. And then that’s when the incident happened.”

Terese said the collapse happened “really fast.” 

“That part just hurts really bad because it didn’t matter that we were literally right there,” she said. “It was just a hole, and then there’s nothing.”

Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.

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After now shedding a staggering 578 pounds combined, the healthy, happy, new and improved couple says they plan to continue supporting each other through life, and even begin to counsel others on their own weight loss transformation.

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