A primary dune area on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

FRISCO, Hatteras Island — A 17-year-old male from Chesapeake, Virginia, died Saturday after being trapped under several feet of sand at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) in Frisco, Hatteras Island. 

A press release from the Seashore said that around 2 p.m., Seashore law enforcement rangers responded to a 911 call regarding a teenager trapped in a hole, approximately 0.10 mile east of off-road vehicle ramp 49 in Frisco. 

The hole was dug in a back-dune area behind the primary dune and not visible from the beachfront.

Prior to emergency personnel arriving on scene, family and friends went looking for the teenager and found him buried under several feet of sand, apparently caused by portions of the adjacent dune collapsing into the hole. 

Rangers worked with family members to extract the teen while simultaneously performing CPR. 

Dare County Emergency Medical Services personnel and Hatteras Island Ocean Rescue staff assisted with extracting the teenager from the hole and administering CPR. 

Unfortunately, resuscitation efforts were not successful. The incident is under investigation.

“Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers our condolences to his family and friends,” said David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. “We urge visitors not to dig deep holes on the beach due to the danger they present to beachgoers and emergency response staff.”

The Observer has published a guide to beach manners and etiquette, which includes an advisory about digging large holes.

Beware of digging deep holes or tunnels on the beach. It can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. Visitors to the seashore have been killed when sand collapsed on them while they were digging tunnels.
If you do dig holes on the beach, be sure to cover them up before you leave. Holes on the beach at night can be dangerous for pedestrians, emergency vehicles and wildlife.

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