Family pay tribute to 'beautiful' daughter, 7, killed in sand hole collapse

Sloan Mattingly died last week while on holiday at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in Florida when a five-foot-deep hole collapsed on her and her nine-year-old brother.

The family of a seven-year-old girl who died after a sand hole collapsed on her while she played on the beach in Florida, have paid tribute to their “beautiful” daughter and sister.

Sloan Mattingly died while on holiday in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when a four to five-foot-deep hole collapsed on her and her nine-year-old brother, Maddox.

The boy was buried to his chest, but Sloan was fully covered by sand.

Video taken by a bystander showed people unsuccessfully trying to dig her out using their hands and buckets.

Rescue crews finally dug her out, but were unable to resuscitate her.

“What started as an amazing family trip quickly turned into the devastatingly tragic loss of their 7-year-old daughter/sister Sloan,” the family wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Sloan’s mother Therese wrote: “A freak accident happened yesterday while we are here on vacation and it took away our greatest 7.5 years.”

Investigators on the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea after the tragic incident. / Credit: AP

She added: “We experienced the purest human being and we are forever changed by her.

“We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

The GoFundMe page was set up by Sally Krouse, a coach at Plus Ultra Fitness in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the family are from, to “help bring Sloan home from Florida, cover funeral costs and ease the financial stress as they learn to navigate their new world,” a statement read.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small enclave north of Fort Lauderdale, does not have lifeguards on duty and there were no professionals immediately available to help during the incident on Tuesday.

A bucket rests next to caution tape on the beach. / Credit: AP

Sandra King, spokesperson for the Pompano Beach Fire-Rescue Department said: “It was a horrible, horrible scene. Just imagine one minute your children are playing in the sand and then in seconds you have a life-threatening situation with your little girl buried.”

About three to five children die in the United States each year when a sand hole they are digging at the beach, a park or at home collapses on top of them, news reports and a 2007 medical study show. Others are seriously injured and require CPR to survive.

Those who have died include a 17-year-old boy who was buried at a North Carolina beach last year, while a 13-year-old who was digging into a sand dune at a state park in Utah and an 18-year-old who was digging with his sister at a New Jersey beach were killed in 2022.

Lifeguards say parents should be careful letting their children dig at the beach and not let them get too deep.

The GoFundMe page in Sloan’s name has raised nearly $138,000.

Her family said: “Sloan, your smile and presence has moved SO many people! You are SO very LOVED. We WILL get you home to your family and we will continue to wrap them in love and prayers.”

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