Lifestyle & Human Interest

Age 15 Girl Rescued After Beach Hole Collapses, Trapping Her Beneath Sand


Building sandcastles at the beach is a rite of passage for many kids. Even some adults get in on the creativity, bringing shovels and helping create fortresses and pools.

But not all digging at the beach is fun and games. As Tessa Filmer-Gallagher discovered, it can be unforgiving and harsh.

On Sunday afternoon, at a beach in Chatham, Massachusetts, Heidi Filmore-Gallagher discovered that her 15-year-old daughter had been buried in the sand.

“One of the kids called me and when I answered I could barely hear them I said, ‘What’s going on?’ And they said, ‘Tessa is buried,'” Heidi said, according to WHDH-TV in Boston.

“She was very calm. I think she may have been in shock, but she was also cold because the sand was wet sand.”

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Apparently, Tessa had been digging a hole when the sides caved in on her, covering her up to her neck. The sand itself was very heavy and, as her mother said, “like cement.”

Even though the girl’s face was visible, she was having a hard time breathing.

“Everything was buried up to her neck so she couldn’t breathe,” Heidi told WBZ-TV in Boston. “She literally can’t move under this.”

First responders showed up to help, including the Coast Guard, firefighters and the Chatham Harbormaster. Heidi had to stand by as they worked to free her daughter.

“It was hard for me because I wanted to help shovel and they wouldn’t let me help,” she said. “The rescue team was amazing, absolutely amazing — every single one of them professional experienced.”

As the rescuers moved around Tessa, the sides of the pit fell in more, threatening to cover the teen. To keep her from being buried even more, the first responders put a protective barrier around her.

“We were fortunate in the regard that her face and airway were above the level of the collapse, she was able to breathe,” Deputy Fire Chief Justin Tavano said.

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Thankfully, the girl was freed in less than half an hour. She was checked and found to be fine, and didn’t need to go to the hospital.

Now that she’s on top of the sand again, though, Tessa won’t be rushing to dig any more holes on the beach — or anywhere, for that matter.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to somebody else,” Heidi said. “She was the first to say she’ll never dig another hole.”

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