Matt Mina, 17, was visiting his aunt and uncle and spending the day at Newport Beach with his older cousin and other friends when he decided to dig a two-metre pit and a trench that branched off to the side.
The sand on the sides of the trench collapsed on him suddenly while the others in his group were nearby playing bocce ball.
As the sand pressed down on him, he wiggled his head to get a small pocket of air but then began to panic and lost consciousness after a few minutes. He realised no one could see what had happened because he had been hidden from view by the depth of the trench.
“It was really scary. I thought I’d just die,” said Mina, who lives in Free Union, Virginia. “I didn’t expect to be rescued. I didn’t even know if anybody could hear me screaming for help or if anybody knew I was trapped.”
A few minutes later, Mina’s cousin, Eyan Alferos, went to tell him two pretty girls had arrived at the beach and wanted to hang out with them. He saw the sand was flat where the trench had been just moments before – and there was no sign of his cousin.
Alferos, 26, immediately began to dig but at first was shovelling sand from the wrong spot. Then the sand began to collapse on him, as well, and he had to be pulled out by another cousin when the sand reached his waist.
“There was a split second when I thought, ‘He’s not going to make it because he’s been down there way too long’,” Alferos recalled. “It’s a miracle he’s alive because his body shut down and he went unconscious. Who knows how long he was unconscious for?”
Lifeguards were at the scene almost immediately, followed by paramedics, and bystanders quickly began to help dig, using everything from snorkeling fins to toy shovels, Alferos said. Some surfers came in from the waves to help.
“I just remember hearing people and people, like, pulling at me. I didn’t expect it,” Mina said. “I was surprised when I woke up.”
It is believed that Matt was buried for around 30 minutes before being pulled from the collapsed trench.
Sand is just about the worst thing to dig a trench in. Matt is one lucky dude. If it wasn’t for the arrival of those pretty girls that sent his cousin back to find him he would have died. There is a lot to be said for pretty girls and their power to save lives.