Indiana girl, 7, buried alive playing in hole on south Florida beach

A 7-year-old girl has died after getting trapped in the sand on a Florida beach. Her 9-year-old brother is fighting for his life... Please send your prayers to this grieving family. Check comments.


Sloan and Maddox Mattingly from Indiana, aged 7 and 9 respectively, were trapped in the sand in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea while playing in a sand hole, the Broward Sheriff’s Office informed. Both were transferred to the hospital where Sloan died and Maddox is in a critical condition.

The hole was 6-feet deep and collapsed on the children, as per the statement released by the sheriff’s office.

The boy was buried up to his chest, but the girl was fully covered. A video taken by a bystander showed about 20 adults trying to dig Sloan out using their hands and plastic pails, but the hole kept collapsing on itself.

“Everybody’s screaming,” a beach-goer said of the frightening scene and added that she called 911.

As per People, the caller told dispatch, “There’s a child that they’re trying to get out.” The caller then explained she heard the children’s father “yelling for help because his child is caught in a hole in the sand,” and while she was on the phone, the caller said the mom began yelling, “My daughter’s in there.”

Lauderdale-by-the-Se, where the tragedy happened, is a small enclave north of Fort Lauderdale which does not have lifeguards at its beach. Sadly, that meant there were no professionals who could offer help at that moment.

Emergency agencies started arriving one after another. It has not been revealed how long the siblings had been trapped inside the sand before they were pulled out.

“A freak accident happened yesterday while we are here on vacation and it took away our greatest 7.5 years. Don’t tell us you’re sorry for our loss…don’t do that to us. We experienced the purest human being and we are forever changed by her,” the children’s mom wrote on the GoFundMe created to financially support the family. “We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

The GoFundMe, which helped raise over $150,000, further read, “What started as an amazing family trip quickly turned into the devastatingly tragic loss of their 7-year-old daughter/sister Sloan. We know that no amount of money will bring beautiful Sloan back, but your donation can help bring Sloan home from Florida, cover funeral costs and ease the financial stress as they learn to navigate their new world.”

Friends of the grieving family posted messages offering condolences and love.

“She was the funniest friend you could ever ask for, the most loyal sister, the [tiniest] yet most acrobatic…and one of the greatest creations Therese Mattingly and Jason Mattingly ever made,” a friend of the family, Whitney Kanjala, wrote under a photo she shared of Sloan posing in front of an ice-cream shop with her name on it.

The same photo was then shared by Sloan’s heartbroken father. “We took Sloan to this ice cream shop with her name on it. It was a rainy nasty day but we made the best of what we had. We also hit up a local arcade and sang makeshift karaoke at our Airbnb,” he wrote.

Locals also shared their disbelief about the freak accident with one of them saying they have never seen or heard anything like this in 50 years. “I’m shocked. I’m absolutely shocked. I had no idea that digging out…something could happen where it could collapse underneath someone just hanging out and playing on the beach,” one person said.

Another local, Harry Defina, offered his theory about the hole. Speaking to NBC Miami, he said he saw a man digging the hole around 30 minutes before the kids started playing in it.

“I was walking by the beach, and I saw a man…digging a really big hole…up to his chest. I looked at him and he looked back, and I walked away, I didn’t think to go over and tell him not to do it,” Defina said. “I’m even upset that someone would imply that those kids dug that hole. They didn’t dig that hole. It was massive and it ended up like 18-feet-by-6-feet.”

Visibly upset, Defina shared the terrifying moment the kids got buried inside the hole. “I see kids in the hole. I could see the boy a little bit, but all I can see…I’m not going to be able to finish this…all I could see was the top of the girl’s head.”

Bernard J. Fisher II, the association’s director of health and safety spoke of the dangers of sand holes. “The recent incident in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a heart-wrenching reminder of why we must work together to keep our beaches safe,” he said. “By implementing these measures and fostering a community of safety and awareness, we can prevent future tragedies and ensure that our beaches remain places of joy and recreation for everyone.”

Our hearts go out to the grieving family.

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