Update on us.

First, Wow. And Thank You. I am overwhelmed by the kind comments left here and in my email inbox regarding our son’s recent near-fatal accident.

We are all doing relatively well – the boys probably more so than My Old Man and I. They still talk about the accident some, but they seem mostly their usual selves (though Little Buddha is even more clingy than before). My Old Man and I are having a slower recovery – it is hard to describe the complexity of emotions that both of us seem to be grappling with – but we are slowly making our way back to some sort of normal. I am grateful for that privilege, because each day I realize that if our story had ended differently – had we not found Rob in time – I don’t think I could’ve made my way back. I would have been living an entirely different life right now, with a thoroughly shattered heart.

In answer to the questions I have received about linking to our story. Yes, Yes, Yes. Please do. On your blog, on parenting (or other) boards, in emails to friends and family. I want to get the word out to as many people as possible that this kind of thing – though rare – can happen. I don’t want another family to have to go through what we’ve been through, especially since most cases do not end as happily as ours.

I also want people to know that this kind of thing is totally preventable. It’s easy:
1 – Don’t dig holes deeper than waist-height of the shortest person around. The hole my son fell into was not terribly deep. But it was deep enough to swallow him up when it caved in.
2 – If you (or your children) do dig holes, fill them up when you’re done. That alone would’ve prevented our near-tragedy.
3 – When you arrive at the beach, scout out the area you will be setting up in, checking for holes. Teach your children to come tell you if they find holes other have dug, and to not play in or near them.
4 – Keep as sharp an eye on your children on the sand as you would in the water.

I don’t mean to be an alarmist. I realize that what happened to us was unusual. But it did happen. And it didn’t have to. It takes very little effort to prevent this kind of tragedy.

One final bit of an update, to add one bizarre thing on top of another. As it turns out, the national media has gotten interested in Dr. Maron’s recently published findings on this kind of thing (which I think is a very good thing). CBS is going to run a segment on sand hole collapses this coming Tuesday, July 24th, at 7:30 a.m. A camera crew came down this week and interviewed the four of us for the story. The whole segment will only last about 4 minutes and it will include way more than just what they filmed with us, so I expect that very little of the 3 hours they spent with us will actually air.

Again, thank you for your very kind words and good thoughts for our family.


54 thoughts on “Update on us.

  1. When I checked out your blog, I was amazed to read the story about Robbie falling into the hole at the beach. Oh, how terrifying! I’m so glad he was rescued because he brought a great little impish spirit to the knit shop this afternoon in Birmingham!

    Thanks for stopping by; hope to see you again sometime again before you leave town.

    Jane (the one who played with Robbie)

  2. Wow. I’m so glad that you took the time to write about this and share it (and let go of some of it by sharing it). Since I can’t hug you and your kids from here, I’m sending you some sunshine and I’m going now to hug my own 2 gifts.

  3. Thanks so much for the update!! I am glad you shared your story. I would have never thought about a hole in the sand. My prayers go out to you and your family.

  4. wow, I never ever would have worried about this. Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot imagine how you feel..I’m going to link to you on my blog.

    I never would have thought of this danger, but something like this happened in our family, though it was on a construction site- my brother in law jumped into a hole to retrieve a shovel on a job, and the hole caved in and buried him. The only reason he is alive is because a friend of the family was walking ahead of him and heard the rumble and started digging. He ended up with alot of broken bones and has pins in his leg.

    you guys were so lucky, I am so glad.

  5. May you continue to heal and may no one else ever have to suffer this near, or worse yet fatal, tragedy!

    Thank you for your story!

    Mary (O)

  6. I just read the previous post–I never would have thought something like this would happen. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I hope you are all recovering as well as possible.

  7. Setting the DVR now so I can watch it. Won’t be home to see it, taking Big Boy to orthopedic surgeon. But I am glad, cuz then I will watch it with Hubby. Hugs your way.

  8. Wow, what a terrifying experience. I have listed a link to your blog on the Best of Sanibel Captiva (Florida) message board. Hopefully nothing like your experience will ever happen on our beach.

  9. I just happened to find your blog with this story. I am so glad your little boy is ok. Thank you for posting it. My family just got back from a beach trip a couple of weeks ago where we spent a good deal of time buidling castles and digging holes. My almost 2 year old daughter and 4 year old nephew played in the holes, and I am so thankful nothing happened. Next time we will be more cautious!

  10. Wow, what a story. We were just in Oceanside, CA for a vacation and there were several young teens digging a hole that was over their heads when I saw it. If I had any idea I would have warned them right then and there. So scary, and glad that your little guy is okay.

    ~Heather (knitqueen from KH)

  11. Be gentle with yourselves, it will take a while for the experience to settle – I lost my then 2 year old for 5 minutes at a highway rest stop (my husband’s attention wandered, and then the boy did). It was a huge place, next to a river and those moments were among the most frightening of my life. Finally someone said, there’s a child crying in the women’s room. He’d managed to get in, but couldn’t get out (thank God!).

    I still get a sense of panic in my chest when I can’t locate him, and this was almost a decade ago.

  12. I found your blog after seeing your comment on Annie’s. I live near Santa Rosa Beach.

    What a truly amazing story…with a happy ending, thank God. I can not even imagine the terror you and your family have suffered. Praise be to God for whom ALL blessings flow!


  13. That is my worst nightmare. I am in tears reading your story. My three and four year old are always digging holes…this never even crossed my mind. Thank god I read this…our beach visits will be much different now. I can only imagine the fear you felt. He’s got a guardian angel looking after him.
    Take Care

  14. That’s just plain scary! I pray you get over it soon! No shockwaves! Thanks for joining Beaded on Ravely, you have a lovely blog, it’s nice and refreshing! I love your sewing, I sew too!!!!

  15. catching up here and sending all my thoughts and hugs to you and your family. i cannot imagine how terrifying this must have been for you. thank god for the miracle of finding your little one safe and sound and for the kindness of all who searched! thank you too for sharing these safety tips for the beach (i had no idea that something like this could happen on the sand.) thinking of you dear, sending lots of love and strength. xo

  16. What a terrifying story. Thanks for sharing it.

    I’ve heard other horror stories about holes at the beach. I live in NC- four hours away from the SC beaches. A local high school student dug a hole (they sell shovels at beach shops just for digging holes!), then was playing football in the same area. He fell, head first, into the hole and is now a quadriplegic. Awful.

  17. I am so glad your experience turned out happy. I grew up in Southern California and we practically lived at the beach during the summers. Who knew such dangers existed. Thanks for all the advice!

  18. I came over from a “linker” and really am overwhelmed by your story. What an amazing, miraculous thing that your little boy was found safe. I can well imagine you are thankful every second.

  19. I came via Cindy’s blog, as she spotlighted your near tragedy. OMGosh! Had read about the sand hole alert somehwhere last month ~ possibly after your son’s trauma. I am SO glad, along with you, that you have a happy ending to your time at the beach that day. Thanks for sharing, and for all that you are now doing to help prevent others from this happening. Have a wonderful day with your son, and family. 🙂

  20. Good grief! For whatever reason by bloglines in not picking up your feed and I have missed all the trauma and joy happening in your world. I am so happy that your son was found and is safe! and thank you for sharing your thoughts about the whole thing, post-national coverage. We take the kiddo to the beach all the time, it would have never occurred to us to check in the sand for a child that “probably wandered off.”

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  27. OMG, I got chills reading your story. Thank you God your little man is ok. What a horrifying and scary experience. I love the beach but definitely passing this story around to my friends who take their kids to the beach. Thank you so much for sharing.

  28. Thank you for sharing your story! It was hard to read, I was terrified while reading, what you must have gone through in those moments…Glad he’s ok and you found him…omg you found him. Can’t imagine any other outcome, it’s too scary. Having 2 boys that spend A LOT of time at the beach, I never heard about this before and am grateful to have read about it on your blog. Thank you so much!

  29. I am so thankful to hear your little was is safe. I was shocked to read your story. Just last week my daughter was playing in the sand and a hole caved in. Thankfully it was just to her knees but it took 3 people and over 30 minutes digging her out. The more we would dig the more it caved in. Just enough water got into the hole that a suction was created. I knew my little one could breathe but it was scary. I was so thankful for strangers who helped. Parents do need to know this happens.

  30. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments, so if this has been mentioned already, I apologize. As a military spouse, I recognize the emotions you say are going through your family regarding this event as Post-Traumatic Stress. The heightened level of terror and fear seared something into your brain and altered your processing. It would be very helpful for you and your husband, your two sons to see a qualified therapist who specializes in this and who is current with the most recent research and data. This last is very important as some newer solutions and quicker response to dealing with it have been more effective in the long run. There’s also a great book out ther called “What Doesn’t Kill Us” about post traumatic growth.

  31. As a mother, your story stopped my heart. As the mother of enthusiastic hole-diggers you opened my eyes. I’ve already talked to them about keeping holes waist-high, and more importantly, closing them up before they leave the beach. I had no idea. Thank you for spreading the word, for being brave and sharing your story. And being very clear on what we can do to prevent this from happening again.

  32. Your story brought me to my knees. Many years ago at Coronado Beach I was standing in a few inches of water and holding my two years olds hand when a rogue wave hit us. The force separated us and the undertow took my son under so that I couldn’t see him. I lunged for a spot where for a flash, I saw some golden strands of hair. I knew if I missed that he was lost, the force of the water was taking me down also. I felt his hair and grabbed and I pulled my baby up, choking and spitting out water. I was able to steady my legs and inch slowly back to the beach. That night, I was unable to sleep and sat on his bed or paced the house all night. I cried off and on for several hours. In the days to come, I was very sad and experienced nightmares. My husband couldn’t seem to understand my distress and finally I saw a therapist who helped me learn to cope with what happened. Like other readers, I recognize the things that you have said as post traumatic stress. Do know that there are people out there trained to walk through this with you. My best wishes to you and your family. I am so grateful for your outcome. Peace.

  33. Not a “hole” story, but while our family was walking around Elitch Gardens, I noticed that one of our 5 year old twins was missing. Thinking he was close by I went back the way we came – Nothing. I frantically ran about 150 feet in every direction – again, nothing. We asked management to make n announcement – they refused. Now being frantic I went up to the exit door so that no one could take him out. The guard was there and 2 16-17 year old girls had found him and brought him to the guard. It all ended well, as your story did, but that was the worst 20 minutes I have experienced in 18+ years of being a parent. If you haven’t been though it, you can’t imagine it. I’m glad your story had a happy ending too.

  34. Yes , Thank you for sharing this whole scenario at the beach and your emotional trauma in the midst of this. The tv segment will raise awareness of the danger inherent in the seemingly harmless hole digging at the beach if they are not filled in again. Thank you again for sharing. I will spend some time with my grandchildren at the beach in Oct. and this gives me a whole new perspective on play time at the beach.

  35. Mariah – I am so grateful and happy that Rob is ok. Hug and kiss him every day because as you know, every day is a gift that you have him. I truly feel your pain and frustration…there are people out there to help you through the feelings of near loss because losing a child is not what we’re suppose to go through at any age. I miss you.

  36. The sand on the beaches in the Florida Panhandle is very fine and soft making it easier for this to happen there. I would think courser sand wouldn’t collapse as easily. We have vacationed there all our lives and I have NEVER heard of this happening. I’m so glad your boy came out OK and thank you for passing your story on. I’ll pass this on to all my people so they can learn from your almost tragedy. Good luck in the future.

    ❤ 🙂

  38. So sorry for the trauma your family has endured from this. Years ago my husband, son and sons soccer team went to Pensacola, Fl to play in a tournament. We stayed right on the beach. There was an incident of a young boy, probably 14, being buried up to his neck in sand. Unfortunately he did not survive even though his head was out of the sand. He was buried standing straight up, not lying down. Every time he took a breath the sand packed in around him tighter til he could not breath at all. By the time the boys, his team mates, realized what was happening and got help it was to late. So sad. I have sat and watched many children dig holes in the sand, and probably did it myself as a youngster. Now I will be mindful of asking them to fill them before leaving the beach. I have grandkids now and we love the beach as they do. I cant not imagine the emotional and traumatic issues that you have dealt with. Best wishes to you and blessings from above.

  39. I am so sorry for the emotional trauma your family has been through. If you are still having trouble dealing with this you might need to go talk to someone who is qualified to help you through it. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is no joke. I can not imagine anything worse than the loss or even the belief of the loss for 5 minutes of one of my children. Things like this can take a long time to heal from. Even though every thing turned out alright, the trauma can go very deep. G-d bless you!!! Do not put pressure on your self to just “get over it”. It was a very serious loss of security and normalcy .

  40. All of you are experiencing shock and although you will slowly let go of the experience consciously, it will remain in your unconscious minds and may cause difficulty in the future. One way to alleviate that is through a technique called EMDR that was created to treat shocking and traumatic incidents. Go to http://www.EMDRIA.com to find a practitioner in your area. It works beautifully for children Glennie Feinsmith LCSW Ashland OR

  41. Bless your hearts! I live near Santa Rosa Beach and have been here since the 80’s. The holes are very dangerous. Not only can one collapse, but cause other injuries to people strolling the beach and falling into them. I raised my young son on the beach in Destin, so I understand how harrowing your experience must have been!

  42. Thank you for sharing your story and this crucial information! I will pass it on – you will undoubtedly save lives by letting other people know about this.
    I feel for you and the trauma you have been through – but the upside is the long lasting joy and appreciation you will have in the presence of your children and loved ones – I hope you can maintain that awareness in your life, so that in the long run this experience will add more joy than stress to your life!!

  43. I understand the feeling. I have a child who opened a third story window by himself and fell out. He thought the top of the double hung window panes would be a good place to sit & that the screen would hold him in. Seeing your child dead on the deck below is a trauma I would wish on no one. Thank G-d he was not dead but unconscious. The most terrifying 5 minutes of my life, followed by a terrifying day in the hospital. I understand your emotional trauma, and am glad that you are now doing better. For others out there, get window locks that prevent children opening them more than 4 in, and when a traumatic accident occurs, please support the parents and do not blame them. I see it all the time in commentary. What happened is traumatic enough without the criticism of others. Thank you for having the bravery to share your story.

  44. I have just read your story and am so happy that your child was saved and that he’s completely ok. Sand is a scary thing. We lost my husband’s sister’s little boy in a tragic accident in the sand. He was older and all of his friends were building tunnels big enough to ride their bicycles through. My sister in law had no clue what they were doing or she would have definitely made them stop. Anyway to make a long story short, the tunnel collapsed and buried our nephew and another little boy. They were not as fortunate as your son. They both lost their lives and my sister in law never recovered from it. It was horrible. I just wanted you to know we are so happy for your miraculous outcome. God bless all of you.

  45. Thank you for sharing. This is something Beach patrol should take seriously and place signs warning beachgoers not to did holes more than 2 feet deep along this stretch of beach that is so prone to these sinkholes.
    . Surely there are castles and towns to be built that do not require depth!!

  46. Wow…what a terrifying experience for your family. I am so so glad your son is okay and I pray for continued healing for you and your husband. I cannot imagine the terror you lived through while trying to locate your son. We are heading to Destin FL next week and I am so glad I read this article. Now I have to try to figure out a way to tell this story to my kids without making them to scared to play on the beach. I am so glad your story had a happy ending. Hug that little boy and all of your kids everyday, as Im sure you are already doing. Thank you for getting the word out. I missed the story on tv. Is there a way to find it online do you know?? Thanks again. You have saved many parents and children from a horrible experience. Continued Prayers for you all.

  47. Please please I would like to speak with you. On July 21 2014 we lost our 26 year old son. Adam Pye at Half Moon Bay. We are devastated . I have so many questions. He had just graduated with his Bachelors degree a month n a week before and was moving to Southern Calif. to start his masters program. Now our lives have been changed forever as if someone dropped a bomb and we have exploded in pieces. I am so grief stricken but I know that I need to help stop someone else from going thru what our family is. I trying so hard because I know if my Son survived that U.S. What he would be doing . I now have to be his voice.

  48. Pingback: 4 Things Every Parent Should Know About Sand Safety | earthchicknits

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