Dad’s safety appeal after son trapped under collapsed sand

Dad’s safety appeal after son trapped under collapsed sand

A father has urged people to take care digging on the beach after his 14-year-old son became trapped when a pile of excavated sand collapsed on top of him. 
Rescuers digging out Warren Gant on the beach at Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire

Teenager Warren Gant was instantly pinned beneath the surface during a family visit to the beauty spot of Anderby Creek, on the Lincolnshire coast. 

Dad Paul Gant said: "My youngest spotted the collapsing sand and shouted. We looked and could just see the top of Warren’s hair. It was quite worrying; there was a bit of panic. 

“What none of us had realised was how far he had dug in such a short time.” 

Paul, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, had arrived for a spring day at the beach with Warren, wife Debbie, younger son Liam (13), and their dog on Saturday 8 April.  

Boys playing on the beach with a dog
Liam and Warren Gant playing on the beach with their dog (Photo: Paul Gant)

The boys were digging separately just yards from their parents when Warren’s pile of sand suddenly shifted and fell on top of him, the weight of it pinning him in a seated position, almost entirely covered. 

Paul continued: “I have done a lot of first aid through my involvement with Scouting over the years and knew we had to get his airway clear. 

“My youngest scooped the sand from Warren’s face and within 30 seconds we had moved enough so he had a clear airway. 

“We tried to clear the sand but it was just causing it to slide back down again. We were just trying to dig as quickly as we could.  

“We called for help and people came over to help us. I dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard – they were there in about 15 minutes, which was pretty good going for such an isolated location.” 

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Skegness and Mablethorpe responded along with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, and East Midlands Ambulance Service. 

Sand rescues must be carried out gently to avoid adding pressure around the trapped casualty and ensure they can breathe. 

Rescuers sweep back the sand, often by hand or with spades, taking care to avoid causing injury. They are backed by a second line of support moving the excavated material further away to stop it sliding back in. 

Less than an hour after Paul’s 999 call at about 12.40pm, Warren was pulled from beneath approximately 4ft of sand – to the great relief of his parents – and checked over by paramedics. 

He was cold but remained calm throughout, said Paul, and was otherwise none the worse for his ordeal. 

Paul said: “We were surprised that this could happen. We have been to the beach many times and have always dug holes – teenage boys will dig holes, that’s what they do! We were just surprised Warren dug so deep so quickly. 

“He’s not been scared by this in any shape or form. He will dig another hole but he will dig in a slightly more risk-conscious way, and we will be more aware.” 

Tom Sharp, Senior Coastal Operations Officer for Mablethorpe, Skegness, Wrangle and Sutton Bridge, added his voice to Paul's advice for people to take care. 

Tom said: "Grabbing your beach spade to dig holes in the sand is great fun for children and adults. It's a very British tradition enjoyed by lots of people all around our coast – we certainly don't want to stop that. 

"All we ask is for beach-goers to pause and consider whether the hole they dig might be a bit risky for little ones or themselves, and to fill them in before you go home so no one has an accident. 

"Sometimes those holes just end up too deep and pose risks of collapse or people falling in – particularly children who are too small to get out safely or could be completely covered with sand." 

(Main photo: Paul Gant)


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