12-year-old boy dies in sand cave

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It was supposed to be a weekend of fun with fellow Boy Scouts. Instead, the weekend turned into a tragedy.

A 12-year-old boy was digging a sand cave at the Little Sahara Recreation Area in Juab County Friday when the sand walls of the cave collapsed on him.

The Deseret News identifies the boy as Caleb Williams from Wellington, which is just outside of Price. He was camping with a Boy Scout troop from Mapleton.

Lisa Reid, a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Land Management, says there were eight scouts and four adult leaders in the group. They had just finished dinner Friday night when the boy decided to dig a sand cave. The sand was wet, and Williams dug about six feet horizontally before the cave collapsed.

"It was holding its shape, and then all of a sudden it collapsed around him," Reid said.

By the time rescuers found his body, it was almost 45 minutes later. He was covered in nearly 7 feet of sand.

Reid said Williams was a popular wrestler at his school. His family is in the process of moving from Wellington to Mapleton. We're told his parents weren't with him last night when this happened.

There are warning signs throughout the Little Sahara area about digging tunnels. Now, the Bureau of Land Management wants to remind people to be careful.

"The biggest thing I can say is for anyone that comes out to recreate on public lands, please educate yourselves and educate your children that tunneling is extremely dangerous," Reid said.

We met up today with Neisha Chastain, who brought her daughter to Little Sahara for the first time. After hearing about the cave-in, she says she'll definitely make sure her daughter doesn't dig a tunnel.

"Pretty crazy that something like that would happen," she said. "So I guess sand castle digging too deep is probably not the best here."

This is the third collapse at Little Sahara in the past few years. In the other two, one person died.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com


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