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Teen trapped in sand tunnel thanks his rescuers

August 10, 2011 |  8:11 am

Teen trapped in Newport Beach sand tunnel thanks rescuers

A Virginia teenager who was rescued from under seven feet of sand met with about 15 of the Newport Beach firefighters and lifeguards Tuesday who helped save him last week.

Matt Mina, 17, of Charlottesville, visited the Lido Station to meet with his rescuers and, as a show of thanks, handed out a batch of almond-crusted cookies, the Daily Pilot reported.

On Aug. 3, firefighters and lifeguards helped pull Mina out of the sand after a tunnel he was digging near the 54th Street beach caved in and left him buried alive for about 30 minutes.

Mina, who is visiting his aunt in Orange while on summer vacation, echoed warnings issued by firefighters since the accident for beach visitors not to dig tunnels or holes in the sand more than waist-deep.

"It's kind of deadly," Mina said.

At the firehouse Tuesday morning, he described the harrowing experience of being trapped beneath the sand. When he tried to move, he recalled, the sand compressed around him, creating a straitjacket-like feeling.

Since the incident, Mina said he has "enjoyed things more."

Firefighters and lifeguards marveled that the teen emerged relatively unscathed. He was discharged from Hoag Hospital three hours after being admitted because of soreness.

About 50 firefighters were on the scene after the sand tunnel collapsed, said Division Chief Ralph Restadius.

"I'm very grateful to see Matt standing here today," said Battalion Chief Jeff Boyles. "It all worked out in this case."

The incident hasn't turned Mina off to California, though he said he probably wouldn't be digging more holes any time soon.

"I kind of like California," Mina said. "I went to the beach the next day."


2 teens hurt in beach tunnel collapse near Santa Cruz

'I thought I was going to die,' says teen trapped in sand tunnel

-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: Matt Mina, 17, right, shakes hands with Blaine Fletcher, a Newport Beach lifeguard who was one of the first rescue personnel to arrive after a hole Mina was digging collapsed on him. Credit: Scott Smelter / Daily Pilot