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Lifestyle & Human Interest

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

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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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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking