Utah teen dies after sand tunnel collapses, buries him at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Rescuers dug out the 13-year-old boy from under 6-and-a-half feet of sand

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A 13-year-old Utah boy died at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park over the weekend after a tunnel he was believed to be digging in the side of a sand dune collapsed with him inside, officials said Monday.

Ian Spendlove, of Santa Clara, was with his family at the park in Kanab when the incident occurred just after 5:30 p.m. Saturday outside the campground area, the Utah Division of State Parks said.

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A family member witnessed the tunnel collapse on Spendlove and rushed to get help from nearby visitors and park staff, who immediately began digging to free the trapped teen, the agency said.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is located in southwestern Utah. The state park is known for its pink sand and red sandstone cliffs.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is located in southwestern Utah. The state park is known for its pink sand and red sandstone cliffs. (Utah Division of State Parks)

Deputies with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and a State Park law enforcement ranger rushed to the scene with shovels to help. 

Spendlove was recovered about 23 minutes after the collapse, under what officials estimated was 6-and-a-half feet of sand. 

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First responders performed CPR and, after confirming Spendlove had a pulse, airlifted him to St. George Regional Hospital. He was later transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. 

On Sunday, Spendlove had not regained brain activity and was declared dead, officials said.

"The Utah Division of State Parks extends our condolences to Ian Spendlove’s friends and family impacted by this tragedy," the agency said.

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Park rangers believe the 13-year-old was digging a tunnel in the side of a sand dune when it collapsed.

The incident remains under investigation.