anniversary of a rescue

It’s time for me to celebrate again, and I want you to celebrate with me!

(my original blog entries about these events can be found here and here . My first year’s anniversary write-up can be found here )

3 years ago, while vacationing at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, my then 3 year-old son fell into a hole left by some other children, six feet from where I stood, while I was in conversation with my husband. It was only a matter of seconds before I realized he was gone from my peripheral vision, and as close as we were to the water’s edge, I thought he had been swept into the water (which was very rough and choppy that day). For five minutes, my husband and many others searched for him. Long after we had given up hope of finding him alive, a young woman noticed an indentation in the sand near our towels, stuck her hands in, and felt the top of his head 8-10 inches under the surface. (For the rest of my life, I will be grateful to Erika Orlando, now Erika Weiland).

My husband and others immediately began digging. Miraculously, my husband pulled our son out of the hole alive, and totally fine (though shaken up, as we all were). Afterwards, I learned that sandhole collapses are a more frequent occurrence than I would’ve dreamed, and that the majority of them end in death. There are four easy things you can do to prevent such a tragedy:
1. When you arrive at the beach, always check nearby for any holes left by others, and fill them in.
2. Do not dig holes any deeper than knee-high of the shortest person in your group. Yeah, I know this sounds extreme. If this feels more extreme than your group can accommodate then perhaps you can at least stop at waist-high.
3. If you do dig holes, fill them in before you leave. The hole my son fell in had been left by other children.
4. Make sure any children you go to the beach with know that holes and trenches can be dangerous, and that they should let you know if they see any abandoned holes.

July 8th feels like a birthday to me, because it’s the day I got my baby back, the day I got my own life back when I thought it had been shattered. In my religious tradition, there are stories of people getting back things (or people) they thought they’d lost for good – and they always throw a party. I’m not having a full-on party, but I do want a little virtual celebration.

This year, I’m giving away fiber!
stashed :: Hello Yarn May 2010 Fiber Club

This is a particularly sought-after Hello Yarn Fiber Club fiber, the May 2010 colorway, Garland. It is so happy and fun, it seemed like a good choice for a giveaway. If a non-spinner wins it, I will happily spin it up for him/her (though the spinning will have to wait until after Tour de Fleece is over).

You don’t have to do anything but leave a comment letting me know you’d like to celebrate by winning some fiber (or handspun yarn, if you’re not a spinner). I’m cross-posting this on flickr as well, and you’re welcome to comment in both places, but I’ll only count each comment as one entry. If you don’t like fiber, don’t want fiber, but still want to leave a comment, that’s great too (but let me know you don’t want to be entered). I’ll draw a winner next Friday, July 16, after noon EST.

And if you’d help spread the word about sandhole safety, too, that’d be great. Let me know if you blog about this, or tweet about it, or otherwise spread the word about sandhole safety, and I will enter you in the giveaway a second time.

This picture at the top of this post was supposed to be an homage to this original anniversary pic, from July 8, 2008.
365.39 - anniversary of a rescue

I didn’t manage to get a decent one of both of us this time around, but I loved his joie d’ vivre in the one at the top of this post, and how he has such a similar expression to his 4 year-old self. I named him Little Buddha for this blog four years ago, but I should have named him Little Lion. And I love to hear his lively roar.

67 thoughts on “anniversary of a rescue

  1. I saw your facebook note and had the same shiver of horror when I first read your story. You are lovely and you’re really lucky to have THE CUTEST LITTLE BOY EVER!!

  2. Wow, Stacey, what a story! We’ve just moved to the Texas coast and are/will be at the beach a lot. I don’t remember ever seeing holes that big, but I’ll be glad to share your blog posting on my profile.

    And I’m not a spinner but am a boring knitter (like, just scarves). Not sure what you do to make that gorgeous twirl of fiber into yarn, but I’d be glad to be entered into your spin contest!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I continue to relay your story since reading your original post about it. I am so happy that your story from that day can be educational but not one of tragedy. I don’t spin but would love some gorgeous handspun.

  4. I love his expression in both of those photos.

    Your tale of that accident is what first brought me to your blog; I don’t even think I realized it was a knitting blog at that point. Months later I happened across it from a knitting perspective, read a couple of entries, and thought, “Is this the one that…?” It was. I’ve been coming around for your knitting, your boys (who are the same age as mine), and your own joie d’ vivre, which shines through on these pages.

  5. Wow! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time! Your experience had a huge impact on me. Now, three years later, it’s such a reminder to hug your kids! Enjoy your celebration!

  6. Hi Stacey, I’m LM’s husband. Wow, what a story. You don’t need to include me in the drawing for the yarn…well, put me in, and if I win, give it to someone more deserving. Glad it turned out OK. 🙂

  7. This story shook me up badly. Last year I emailed it to my friends and this year I posted it on facebook. Such a scary thing since we live near the coast.

    I’m so very glad your boy was saved. My good intentions and wishes are being sent to his rescuer.

  8. This story tears my heart to pieces every year. I am so thankful that it ended happily, and that you use it to help others. I absolutely want to talk about it on my blog (though my readership is small, they are thoughtful people who will do good things with your story). I’m still unversed in blog etiquette – I hope it’s ok to just link to this post?

    And I definitely want to celebrate with you, and with fiber! (And with my son, whom I’ll squeeze extra tightly tomorrow morning.)

  9. I love that you’ve turned such a painful event into a chance for good — to educate others and to celebrate your family. Count me as one of the many who never considered that the sand itself could be dangerous.

  10. What a sobering, terrifying story, with such a wonderfully happy end. Thank you so much for taking it and turning it into an opportunity to save other kids. I’ll be sure to spread the word.

  11. happy to celebrate with you on this particularly meaningful anniversary. so nice to have a reminder that hope isn’t naive, and that the impossible just isn’t sometimes. happy july 8th to you and your family, stacey!

  12. See – Something I didn’t know and obviously a completely necessary bit of information that could save a life someday.

    Glad someone saved your little one that day – Hugs to you both!

  13. I can’t believe it’s been another year. Your story is so important and miraculous and I’m glad you keep telling it. I love that he still has his curls, too!

  14. I was just thinking about you and your boy when I was at the beach last weekend. There was a sandy overhang of sorts, where clean beach met sand dune, and I thought it would be far too easy for a little child to go under it, and for the sand to collapse! I’m so glad the accident is a distant memory now, and that no one was hurt.

  15. What a happy boy you have there – so sweet! Thank you for reminding all of us every year of this potential danger at the beach.

  16. What is better than that enormous smile of his! And what a horror, I can’t even imagine how you felt. I can imagine, though, that every single day afterward you must feel relief and joy hearing his voice. It’s amazing, how fast terrible things can happen. One second they’re just right there, and the next half-second something awful. I had a much less terrifying thing happen with one of my daughters and just writing this, and reading your story, reminded of me how that felt, that lightning quick moment. Thank you for the beautiful giveaway honoring this anniversary.

  17. I started following your blog shortly before the sandhole incident, and I remember it so clearly. I’m glad you have your son with you!

  18. I’m a beginner spinner, so if I win (which I would love to do!), I will spin it, eventually. 😛 I’m on the hunt for a wheel right now, and I’m thinking about breaking out my old drop spindle and giving it a whorl (excuse the pun) again!

    I’m so glad to hear that your son was okay after that. As a step-mom, and a mom-to-be in November, I know that feeling all to well. My step-daughter (5 y/o) once walked halfway up the two flights of stairs that go up to our driveway and car after I only turned away from her while she was playing for a second. Scared me half to DEATH that someone could have snatched her, or she could have run out onto the path on the other side of the lawn, or even climbed the fence (that has a 20 foot drop down to prickly blackberry bushes) to maybe go after a toy, or the sheer fun of it. That feeling of dread that you can’t find them, and the feeling of relief when you do, no one else can understand it until they’ve gone through the same thing.

  19. What beautiful pics of your little lion! I’m so so glad that you share this story every year – it’s such a great reminder about sand safety, and a great reminder to hug our families. Your boys seem like such amazing kids.

    I’d love some handspun since I’m not a spinner, although that gorgeous fiber makes me wish I was!

  20. I remember reading your story in past years, and I still can’t imagine how you felt! I am so glad yours was a happy ending, and I have shared it with my littles who now fill holes in the sand when they come across them 🙂 Happy Anniversary!

  21. Wow. This is the first time I’ve come across this story. We live in Florida and go to the beach as often as we can with our two little boys. I’ve never heard of this happening before. I will definitely share this with my family. Happy Anniversary!

    Happy Tour de Fleece as well! I’m spinning, spinning, spinning away …. ;o)

  22. Happy Anniversary! I had no idea about sand holes before reading about them on your blog! I am sending your story far and wide, especially to the dozens of people I know going to the Jersey shore this weekend. Thank you so much for making sure we all know about it.
    Love the fiber, this is such a sweet way to commemorate your great fortune. I’m a mad knitter, future spinner, and mom to my own sweet 7 year old.

  23. Hi Stacey,

    Thanks for sharing your incredible story. My wife Hope and I live about 45 minutes away from South Padre Island Texas and will definitely share your story with our friends and family.


  24. What happy pictures and what a happy ending to what could have been such a tragedy! I have a 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, and I have to tell you that reading your story brought tears to my eyes – first for the terrible fear you must have felt and then for the awesome joy.

    I am going to post your story on my blog and my facebook page and send it to everyone I know who has a child or loves a child (so, I guess that’s just about everyone I know). Thank you so much for sharing your story and a very Happy Anniversary to your family!!!!!!


  25. I remember when you first posted–I think I thanked you for spreading the word, since we go to the beach often. We were just there this morning, in fact. The fog rolled in and someone commented that it looked like my head was on a swivel as I worked really hard to keep all three of my children in sight. I do warn them about holes, thanks to you.

    No need to enter me–I feel celebratory enough, having three sandy, salty, safe children in my house this afternoon!

  26. When I first read your story a couple years ago, it really touched me and scared me. I also have a son (who it seems is close in age to LB) and since he was born anything dealing with children in sad and tragic ways affect me more and more as time goes by. I can imagine how this felt, though not your specific situation, but the fragility of life. My son was born early and had several scary moments in his first few months of life, so I’m also constantly reminded of how close we came and appreciate him more every day.

    Thank you for putting this out there and letting us learn from your awful experience! I’m so glad you get to celebrate today and hug your boys as the alternative is unthinkable.

    As for the contest, I would love the fiber, though I haven’t learn to spin yet, so if you choose to spin it for me, I wouldn’t complain. =)

  27. I will never forget LB’s story, and am so glad you retell it in the name of sandhole safety. I am gladder still that your glorious boy is safe and sound and roaring.

  28. Wow. I had no idea that sand holes could be so dangerous. I’m so happy that day didn’t end in tragedy.

    As for the roving, I am a new spinner and would love to try to spin it up.

  29. Both pictures are simply lovely – his spirit is evident in both of them! I’ve been aware of sandholes as well, passing along your story to my family and family friends with kiddos. It’s my hope that no one else will ever have to experience this sort of thing.

  30. What a horrifying experience. Thank God he was okay. I remember your post from last year, it came just ahead of our annual family trip to the beach. As luck would have it, we’re leaving this weekend for the beach again. Thanks for your fresh and timely reminder. Best wishes to you and your beautiful family!

  31. You and Buddha (you are going to have to drop the ‘little’ sometime) are the first thing I think of when we hit the beach. Please don’t put my name in the hat for the fleece, I am spin-challenged and want a spinner to make beautiful things with it…I just popped in to wish you all a Happy Anniversary!

  32. We are hitting the beach tomorrow. I appreciate the reminder and would love to celebrate with you with some fiber-y goodness!! PTL for happy endings!!

  33. Wow, that’s an amazing story. I’m so glad your son is still here with you. You are indeed a lucky mom.

    I was brought to your story through a link on Facebook which I will definately copy and re-post to help spread the word and I would love to celebrate with you by winning some fiber. I am a spinner and I look forward to re-visiting your site often.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  34. You could have named him Little Robert Plant! Heehee.

    I’m always on the lookout when at the beach for potential dangers thanks to you spreading the word.

  35. What an ordeal! So glad the ending was a happy one. You’re right it doesn’t always end that way. Many don’t realize how dangerous simple holes at the beach are. Thank you for putting it out there. Happy anniversary and a great way to celebrate. I am a spinner and see you on Rav a lot in the HY forum. 🙂 Your son is the cutest child! Look at those curls!

  36. I still get all teary-eyed when I read about this event. The horror I felt three years ago as I read your blog (not knowing the outcome) is quite fresh. I can’t imagine the last three years without Little Buddha and I’ve never met him in person. I’d love to be entered, but can’t decide if I want to take the plunge into spinning (my knitting group has become a bunch of pushers!) or wimp out. haha

  37. We live in in Oregon and go to the coast frequently. I didn’t know this before and am glad to tell my friends and family (who own a beach house).
    I’m so glad your child was alright.
    Marion Poole
    (I don’t spin)

  38. What a story! I had never heard of sand holes. Count me in please for the drawing. If I win the fiber by chance…what ever I spin and knit will be donated to my favorite place to support. “Home of the Innocents”. This place took care of our son for 1 week before he was placed with us for foster care. Now he is legally our son, but I am grateful to Home of the Innocents and the work they do keeping children safe and well cared for.
    Many blessings to you and your family.

  39. I love both those pictures and am so thankful for the way your story ended, and began again. (((you)))
    And I guess I would want the handspun, if I should be so lucky. 😉

  40. I remember the first post of this story all too well and have followed the updates….he’s sure growing up.
    Thanks for reminding us each year about sand holes.
    Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate.
    I would love some handspun. 🙂

  41. I still remember what I felt the first time I read your original and first anniversary posts. I still feel the same way about it now.

    Your precious son has grown so much but his smile remains the same – infectiously bright!

    What do you as a family to celebrate this anniversary?

  42. Julie over at Noolie Knits sent me to read this incredible story of your child’s rescue. I cannot even imagine going through something like that!

    You were truly blessed to have your child be fine after that experience.

    Now I will always remember that – and even though I have no small children in my life – I will be sure to keep at eye out for children and dug out holes at the beach.

    May you all continue to celebrate this anniversary peacefully and safely!

  43. I’ve read your blog for a while now and I thought about your experience when we were at the beach a few weeks ago and had the kids squash the holes they had dug before we left. The kids actually enjoyed jumping on the edges of the holes and flattening them out. Thank you for taking the time and opening your heart to share your very sound advice. Peace and smiles for you and your family.

  44. What a wonderful photograph to celebrate a wonderful occasion. I’d love to be in the drawing although since I just sprained my hand on Friday – it will be a while before I can spin again.

  45. I have a family friend that went through something similar. Thankfully her daughter was okay but it’s something I always check for at the beach now. I’d love to enter myself into the contest for some handspun yarn, however, either way I just wanted to say I am so glad it turned out well for you also. 🙂

  46. I will think about your story every time we go to the beach. I will pass it on to my family and friends.
    Thank you,

  47. Pingback: knitted :: Emerald Coast Shawl (handspun Citron) « earthchicknits

  48. Ever since I first read about your family’s experience I have shared it with others. I had never though t about it happening at a beach as I grew up in the mountains and have had very few beach experiences, I just don’t think of them. But I grew up with lots of snow, and it often gets piled up in empty lots and/or parking lots. Kids would build tunnels and forts in the piles, but snow does the same thing as sand and I have told people that too.

  49. It makes me happy to see your son’s joyous expression year after year. Thank you for sharing your experience – I continue to share this information with everyone to this day.
    I also love that you’ve chosen a very fun colorway to give away. I am crossing my [non-spinning] fingers in hopes of being the lucky winner.

  50. OMG! What a cutie pie! I’m not a spinner, so I have no hand spun at home, but I do have some cutie pies of my own! Would love to knit something special for them with your give away!

  51. Your story gave me goosebumps. I’m so glad it had a happy ending.

    (And I agree with Sara about the hair – gorgeous).

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