five years later :: celebration of a rescue

then and now :: Little Buddha and me

then and now :: Little Buddha and me, originally uploaded by earthchick.

As many of you know, five years ago yesterday, we almost lost our then-3 year-old son in a sand hole collapse at Santa Rosa Beach, in Florida. He fell into a hole dug by other children, and the sand collapsed on top of him, burying him completely, with his head at least 8 inches under the surface. Miraculously, he survived. You can read the full story here , with follow-up here . And read about it from the amazing perspective of Erika Wieland, the woman who saved his life, here .

Little Buddha :: five years later

Our little guy and his twin brother are now 8 years old. They both remember the accident, and speak about it freely. None of us takes for granted the gift we were given that day at the beach.

Tiny Dancer, Little Buddha :: five years later

After our accident, 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.

Every year, as part of my celebration of getting our baby back, I post about our experience, in hopes of raising awareness of this entirely preventable sort of accident. Every summer these accidents continue to happen (a teenager in California was nearly killed two weeks ago). My internet friends have been a huge part of helping me get out the word.

Also as part of my celebration, I always do a tiny giveaway. This year, I’d like to give one of you this handknite shawlette:
knitted :: Nefertem
This is a Through the Loops pattern, Nefertem. I loved every minute of knitting it and would love wearing it, too, but I decided that instead I would like to give it away as a way of sharing my joy. (I’ll be posting more pics and deets about the shawl tomorrow – just wanted y’all to get a glimpse of the giveaway goods).

All you have to do is leave a comment here, or on my Facebook page, and I will enter you into the drawing. And if you let me know that you spread the word (through FB, TW, Google+, or your own blog), I will enter you a second time. I will draw a random winner next Monday, July 16, after 5:00pm EST.

our family :: five years ago
(five years ago)

our family :: five years later
(five years later)

Thanks for celebrating with me y’all.

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81 thoughts on “five years later :: celebration of a rescue

  1. Every year, I share your story. Just reposted on FB, tweeted it, and earburned you in a Ravelry thread. Hugs to all.

  2. I remeber somehow finding this story before I subscribed to your blog and thinking how scary it was. Now as a mother of my own little boy (21 months), re reading the story brings tears to my eyes and chills up and down my spine. I am so thankful that your sweet little man was saved that day!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Our Chicago beaches are filled with holes, and now I know to be wary of them.

  4. I too remember the first time you told me the story at a knit night (way back in the day…). Love the photos! I keep sharing with others too.

  5. I can’t even go back and read the story from when it happened. I’m tearing up just thinking about the first time I read it. I’m so happy your story ended in happiness!! And I loved looking at the then and now pictures!

  6. I read about your story on rav. So glad you got the ending you did. I had no idea about this danger until I read it there.
    I forwarded your page to my sister and husband.

  7. Thank God for his rescue! I have 2 boys myself (5 and 8) who love to dig on the beach – I had no idea this could happen, much less with such frequency! Thank you so much for sharing – I will post this to my FB page and also share with out homeschool community.

  8. ….thankful that God put Erika in your lives that day! She was faithful to follow where she was lead to save your sons life.

  9. Thank you for sharing this story again. Such sandhole collpases are so dangerous and happen quite often like last week on the Isle of Amrum in northern Germany.
    Praising God for the rescue of Litle Buddha!

  10. Thank God for your son’s rescue. thank you for sharing your story, I will post it on my FB to spread the word on how dangerous are the sand holes. God bless you and keep you safe alone with your lovely family.

  11. I remember being so shaken after reading your story… I forwarded it to my SIL at the time, and will now send it on to my girlfriends, many of whom have since had kids. Such a crucial message, thanks for the reminder!

  12. Shared on FB. A good reminder. My little guy is a curly guy, too. Thanks for sharing your experience. And a lovely piece of knitting!

  13. Stacey, I remember reading about this for the first time last year. I am so grateful that Erika was there and that your sweet one is here to celebrate! I’ve shared your post on my fb page and friends with little ones have commented that they hadn’t ever heard about this danger. Thanks for turning something scary and awful into a way of preventing more potential disasters. Hugs, Jessica

  14. I live near the beach and bring my family to swim in the ocean, walk the beach and play in the sand almost daily. I read your story a few years back, and I remind the kids every time they dig a hole to be careful. Thank you!

  15. I remember reading your story years ago, too. You have good reason to celebrate. Nothing is more important in life than a healthy family and you all look wonderful.

  16. Thank you! My son is the same age as your twins. This is something I’ve never thought about, and we are going to the beach tomorrow. I’ll be sure to be careful, tomorrow and forever. Happy Celebration Day to all of you!

  17. I have shared on fb, so glad this turned out to be a day of celebration for your family. We lived in Florida when my kids were young and I worried about many things, this was something I was totally unaware of.

  18. Your boys are so adorable! I’m so so glad that Erika was there and Rob was rescued. Thank you for always sharing your story and raising awareness about sandholes – I’m off to post on Facebook! ❀

  19. So thankful for you and your family that he was rescued. What a blessing! And, good for you for getting the awareness out about this issue. I never knew these things existed until I read your blog a year ago. Now, I tell my friends who have small children and are planning on beach vacations.

  20. What an amazing story! It is obviously a God thing. How else would she have known to start digging? I shared it on my Facebook as well.

  21. Beautiful family! So glad you share it every year. No doubt you’ve saved lives. I know I keep it in mind and fill holes when I come to them now.

  22. Thank you for sharing your story and details on how to prevent this from happening to others. My son suffered a concussion at just 2.5 from a bouncy castle. He was unconscious and it was a horrible experience that could have gone another way if it weren’t surrounded by angels just like your Erika. I always tell the story when I hear of people throwing those up in their back yard for parties, etc. They are not meant for the very young.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  23. Thank you for your powerful message. I will pass on the word to my beach going patients. I’m a pediatrician in Wisconsin. Kudos!

  24. Oh, wow. You know, on television when people go to the beach there is often that obligatory scene of kids burying their dad up to his neck or some such. They never show the part where someone gets hurt.

    I shared this on twitter…will share on my blog as well tomorrow.

  25. can’t believe it has been 5 years. so glad everything has worked out. posted to FB about this b/c I have lots of friends with smaller kids.

  26. I cannot believe it has been five years! Your boys have really grown! I remember seeing the story on one of the morning shows.
    I have had my kids fill in holes we have found on the beach.

  27. I’ve been reading about this since it happened, and yet, each time, I’m awestruck by 1) what nearly happened and 2) how ALIVE he looks each year. And he looks more and more like you every day – not just because of the hair! πŸ˜‰

  28. Delighted that you are celebrating this date for a fifth time! (I’m sure actually that apart from the anniversaries that this date is celebrated many many times in your delight and love for your sons).

  29. Thank you for sharing your story. I live in Fla and surf with my daughter. It never dawned on me about these sand holes. I will continue to share only Facebook. God Bless.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing your miracle story! I will share with my daughter who lives in FL and is at the beach every week with my 4 year old grandson; also with friends who are beachgoers along Lake Michigan. Burying one another in the sand has been “fun” for eons. I didn’t realize how dangerous it could be.

  31. I stalk your blog regularly and never comment. . . but I want you to know how lovely you write and how adorable your family is. I recall reading here about your son’s accident and I was so very touched at the lasting impression it made on your family and how it changed your perspective.

  32. Pingback: knitted :: to be gifted (Nefertem) « earthchicknits

  33. Since hearing about the danger of sand hole collapses from you, we always fill in abandoned holes when we go to the beach. Will share on FB. So grateful that Little B was rescued!

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  35. I am so grateful to have read this article and your original post. I had no idea of this danger! I was just at the beach three weeks ago with my three year-old and 7-month old sons. A hole was nearby and we thought that was cool. I will never again look at a hole in the sand in the same light. I have shared on Facebook.

  36. How amazing! I remember reading about this after it happened. What a wonderful ending. I’m not a parent, but I sometimes Mother Duck with my friends’ children and the dangers of sand holes has long been added to my list of things to watch out for.

  37. I think about sand holes and your story every time I’m at the beach, and I worry about all the people who don’t know about the danger. I’ll link to your story on FB, too.

  38. Not realizing the anniversary was this week, I sent the original post to friends who were heading to the beach last week with toddlers. Thanks for sharing, now with my own little one I can’t imagine imagine how frightened you were that day…

  39. So happy all ended well. My parents never let us dig in the beach, or if we did, they were small pockets for mots for sandcastles. Such a beautiful, healthy, growing family! Shared this with friends who have little ones. πŸ™‚

  40. Glad to hear you have your sons safe with you. Thanks for sharing your story and warnings of potential dangers. Wishing you and your family many blessings.

  41. Thankful for the safety of your son! When I was 10 years old I stepped into a hole that was left on the beach, but I didn’t have any major injuries (just a little sand rash). I will spread your message to as many as will listen! Blessings to you & your lovely family.

  42. I remember reading your post when this happened – and reading about it now is just as chilling. Celebrate this most happy anniversary – and many blessings.

  43. Pingback: in progress :: shawls (and a contest update!) « earthchicknits

  44. This is an amazing miracle! God bless you and your family as you journey through life together sharing this to all who receive it. I will help by posting your story on my facebook page. Blessings!

  45. Every year I read your story, and every year I tear up and say a little prayer of thanks for our good fortune and another for protection of little people at the beach. My little people are teens now, but I’m realizing that bigger kids just get into bigger scrapes! πŸ™‚

  46. This gets to me every year, and every year I am happy to help spread the word. I posted on FB, and a couple friends even re-posted. So yay! This is so important to know. I’m so happy to celebrate with you!

  47. the risk never really occured to me until i read about it on your blog last year…since then ive spread the word to all my friends with children πŸ™‚

  48. Hey Stacey–I, too, shared this on Facebook. San Diego is a important place to raise awareness about this! Thanks for continuing to educate us all, and for giving us the chance to celebrate with you each year.

  49. So glad you are all healthy and intact. I didn’t know about this and will share it frm Mary Sue’s FB post. Thank you for this valuable information

  50. Your story truly touched my heart. I’m a mom of four now pretty much grown up young men and as any parent knows, we are so darn lucky to have these wonderful people in our lives. Long may you enjoy your gorgeous little guys.

  51. What a horrible feeling it must have been for you all, 5 yrs ago and how blessed you must feel today! Got tears in my eyes reading about it.
    So nice of you to have a giveaway celebrating this! The shawl is wonderful! would love to win it! πŸ™‚

  52. Thank you for sharing. I let my 6 yr old son go to the beach with relatives, without me. I found out that they were digging tunnels and deep holes. I tried not to freak out, but now I have something that I can share with them without making me look like I’m over protective. I love the advise on how deep to dig as clear guidelines for us to use!

  53. I didn’t know of these sand holes and will certainly pass on this information. I am sorry that your son, you and your family had to go through this ordeal but it is so good to hear of a good outcome fora change. AND keep loving your boys b/c as you have noticed time flies and they grow so fast.

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