A 26-year-old man died at a Half Moon Bay beach after a sand tunnel he was digging collapsed, trapping him for more than 30 minutes, officials said.
State firefighters responded to Francis State Beach just before 5:30 p.m. Monday and found Adam Jay Pye of San Lorenzo completely covered by sand. A hole that was roughly 10 feet deep had caved in, said Cal Fire Capt. Jonathan Cox.
"I haven't personally ever seen anything quite like this," he said Tuesday. "None of the firefighters at the scene had seen anything like it either. These types of calls are very hard to anticipate."
Due to the complexity of the situation, Cal Fire called in 30 additional firefighters with specialized equipment and they, along with bystanders, worked aggressively to free Pye, Cox said.
Pye, who was identified as the victim by family members, was freed after about 35 minutes. Paramedics performed life support, but he died from his injuries.
Pye had gone to Half Moon Bay with friends just days before he was set to take a trip to New York, said his mother, Debbie Pye. He recently graduated from Cal State East Bay with a degree in communications and was preparing to start a job in southern California after working for UPS at the Oakland Airport since he was 18.
"I know this will sound typical coming from his mom, but he really was the perfect child. He never had so much as a parking ticket," she said through tears Tuesday. "He took care of everyone including us. He was always helping people, it was just his way."
Cox said he hoped the collapse would help people understand that even mundane activities at the beach can become dangerous.
"It was a nice, sunny day at the beach and there were a lot of people out," Cox said. "It should serve as a reminder that even digging in the sand can be dangerous and that people need to exercise caution."
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