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Utah Teen's Sand-Dune Tunnel Proved Fatal

Ian Spendlove's tunnel collapsed, trapping him for more than 20 minutes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2022 8:43 AM CDT
Utah Teen's Fatal Act: Digging in Sand Dune
A family takes in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah in June 2012.   (Getty Images/PacoRomero)

(Newser) – A 13-year-old boy in Utah died after a tunnel he was digging in the side of a sand dune collapsed, trapping him. Ian Spendlove of Santa Clara had been digging just outside the campground area at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, near the Arizona border, when a family member observed the collapse around 5:30pm Saturday, KSTU reports. Visitors and park staff began digging to free the teenager—helped soon after by Kane County Sheriff’s deputies, who brought shovels, per the Salt Lake Tribune—but he was not located until about 5:53pm, Utah State Parks said in a Monday statement.

Ian was ultimately found about 6.5 feet below the surface of the sand, per CNN. He "regained a pulse" after first responders administered CPR, was airlifted to St. George Regional Hospital, then transferred to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, per KSTU. But he did not regain brain activity and was declared dead on Sunday, according to the statement. "The Utah Division of State Parks extends our condolences to Ian Spendlove’s friends and family impacted by this tragedy," officials said. "The incident remains under investigation." (A student cinematographer recently died while riding sand dunes in California.)

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