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Children identified in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fatal sandhole collapse

Children identified in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fatal sandhole collapse
Children identified in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fatal sandhole collapse 03:08

LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA — Police have identified the two children who were trapped inside the deadly sandhole collapse on Tuesday.

According to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, the two kids were identified as siblings 9-year-old Maddox and 7-year-old Sloan Mattingly. Sloan died at the hospital after being rescued from under the sand, while her brother Maddox was pulled from the sand and hospitalized. He remains in stable condition.

Around 3:16 p.m. on Tuesday, BSO received a call reporting two children trapped in sand near the 4200 block of El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. 

On the scene, emergency personnel found the siblings, and paramedics transported Sloan to Broward Health Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. 

According to preliminary investigations, the children and their parents were on vacation from Indiana when the kids were digging a hole on the beach before getting trapped underneath the sand.

On Wednesday evening, a makeshift memorial continued to grow just feet away from where Sloan died.

The family had come to South Florida to escape the cold and have a little rest and relaxation.

Now, they are leaving with unimaginable loss and Sloan's mom is talking about her heartbreak.

In a moving tribute, she wrote, "We experienced the furious human being and we are forever changed by her."

A 911 call said, "There is a little girl buried under the sand and they have not got her out yet." 

Witness Lee Ann Heinlein said, "You could see everybody digging every time. More help came. There were more shovels arriving on the scene. You could hear them calling for buckets."

Heinlein watched it all unfold just feet away. "All you can think about is the parents. I mean, and the little boy that was their son. Now, they have to go through a whole different kind of learning to live."

Gilbert Rajko, who works nearby, told CBS News Miami the children's father heroically tried to save his children.

"The other tourist was on the beach and he holds his a father leg to try pulling both of them out there. But he could not get her out because the sand was too heavy. It took too long to get her out of there."

The seven-year-old's principal wrote in a statement, "Sloan was a bright, sweet loving first-grade student."

Children identified in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea fatal sandhole collapse 03:13

Currently, there are no lifeguards at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, but the mayor of that city said that is likely changing. 

There are discussions underway to finally bring lifeguards to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

Lifeguards recommend you watch your children if they are digging in the sand and do not allow them to dig any more than a foot or two deep. 

Stephen Leatherman, professor of Earth & Environment at Florida International University says, "The problem is loose material. You dig a hole, you will typically dig it straight down. You've got vertical walls and after you dig it, in most places, it dries out quickly. And when it dries out and it starts collapsing."

Leatherman says what happened here is more common than you think.

He says they happen because sand is heavy and there are no air pockets, making it easy to suffocate. He says at the beach, you should only dig about two feet deep and once you're done, fill it back up.

"It's usually kids that suffocate. We've had, in the past 5 or 6 years, the United States has seen over 50 cases of suffocation."

Leatherman says some beaches like Miami Beach have ordinances prohibiting the digging of sand beyond 2 feet. He thinks that needs to be a state law.

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