Authorities say an 11-year-old girl died when she was buried by sand while playing near her Hernando County home.

Friends say they tried but failed to pull Brittany Saavedra out of the sand that collapsed on top of her. She had been digging a tunnel in a retention area in their neighborhood Saturday evening.

By the time sheriff's deputies got her out, it was too late.

The hockey-rink-sized sand pit has always been popular with children in the Spring Hill neighborhood.

Brittany's father calls it a freak accident. But he hopes to see a fence built along the edge to keep the children out.

It's not clear who owns the property.