SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KTVU) - A 10-year-old boy had to be rushed to the hospital after being buried by sand while digging a tunnel at a Santa Cruz beach on Saturday.
22-year-old Ryan Springer says she won't forget what happened Saturday around noon while on lifeguard duty at Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz.
"Someone ran up to me. The reporting party said there was a boy trapped in the sand," said Springer. "When we got there he was unconscious and unresponsive."
Lifeguards say Good Samaritans saw the 10-year-old boy get buried by sand along the shoreline and ran to get help. When lifeguards reached him, he wasn't breathing.
"It sounds like the boy was..actually digging a tunnel in the sand and the sand probably collapsed on top of him and he couldn't get out and couldn't get air," said Eddie Rhee-Pizano, the State Parks Lifeguard Supervisor.
Lifeguards say the boy was resuscitated and rushed the hospital and thankfully recovered.
He even returned Tuesday with his mom to thank Springer.
"I didn't recognize the boy. It was pretty cool to see him. He's doing really well," said Springer. "It was emotional for sure. I welled up a little bit."
During the busy summer season, lifeguards warn the fun of digging sand in some scenarios can be dangerous..
"You shouldn't go past your knees to the smallest person in the group. You should never dig deep, steep holes in the sand and never dig tunnels or caves," said Rhee-Pizano.
In 2008, an 11-year-old boy was killed and two others injured after a sand cave they were playing and digging in collapsed at Natural State Bridges in Santa Cruz.
"We train our staff if you have someone trapped in the sand, you need to make sure and go farther out at an angle and start digging sand away from the point last seen in order to get to the person," said Rhee-Pizano.
Lifeguards with the State Parks say they get several of these calls every summer.
They say the most important thing for any bystander who sees someone gets buried is to rescue that person's head first in order to get them air.