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Girl, 15, nearly died after collapse of hole on Cape Cod beach

A 15-year-old girl nearly died over the weekend after a hole she dug on a Cape Cod beach collapsed and trapped her in the sand from the neck down.  

Heidi Filmer-Gallagher was visiting North Beach Island in Chatham with her three children and a friend on Sunday afternoon when the incident occurred. 

She was collecting shells with her friend when one of her kids called her cellphone around 5pm. 

Her children told her that her daughter, Tessa, had been buried under the sand, according to the Boston Globe. 

‘It was a near-death situation for her and I’ve had a really hard time the last two days,’ Filmer-Gallagher said as she recalled the incident. 

Tessa had been digging a large hole when the walls of the hole collapsed on top of her. 

Filmer-Gallagher told the news outlet that she immediately thought her daughter had been completely buried. As she ran to help her daughter, her friend called 911. 

‘That’s the one thing that keeps going through my head over and over, is the way it felt thinking she was totally under,’ Filmer-Gallagher said.

‘When I got to the other side, she was up to her neck and her head was poking out. It was a giant relief but the worry on the way there was so intense it keeps haunting me.’

Though Tessa wasn’t completely buried, the sand was pressing against her chest, making it difficult for her to breathe. 

‘It was like cement,’ Filmer-Gallagher said, adding that she and her other daughter only made it worse when they tried to dig her out. 

Rescue crews from Chatham Fire Department arrived a short time later and were able to dig Tessa out of the sand. 

Photos of the rescue from WBZ showed crews placing a large black tube around Tessa to keep more sand from pressing against her as they shoveled the sand away.

Chatham Fire Deputy Chief Justin Tavano said that more sand continued to collapse, ‘so it was really labor intensive and challenging’.

‘We had to dig a little, reposition the tube to keep out more sand, and then dig a little and reposition the tube again,’ he added. 

It took about 30 minutes for rescuers to shove away enough sand to help Tessa out. 

Tessa, who walked away uninjured, was evaluated by first responders shortly after she was pulled from the sand.  

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