Report: Father buried alive in St. Augustine sand dune

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A Texas man who had been buried alive after a sand dune collapsed on him in St. Augustine, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office report said.

Lee Goggin, 35, who is in critical condition, was digging a tunnel into the side of a sand dune Sunday before it collapsed on him.

According to the Sheriff's Office incident report, deputies went to the sand dune at Spyglass Condominiums at 8202 A1A South.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue said units responded to the call at 1:40 p.m. and removed several feet of sand in order to get Goggin out. Goggin was taken to Flagler Hospital, SJCFR said.

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Deputies noted that the beach walkover was damaged and had a board nailed across it, advising it was closed. The east end of the board was not connected to the sand and had a 3-foot gap at the bottom, according to the report.

Once deputies made it out on the sand dune, they saw emergency personnel at the scene near a large hole partially under the walkway.

Deputies said Goggin was unconscious and lying on his back receiving medical attention.

Goggin's sister, Rachel Burt, told deputies the family had been traveling since Friday night. Burt and her family were traveling with Goggin, a father of three, and his family to Disney World and decided to stop at the beach since they were to check in at a hotel later that afternoon.

After the family walked down the beach with their young children to play and "burn some energy," Goggin started to dig a tunnel in the sand dune near the beach walkover, Burt said.

Deputies said they learned a child, at one point, was in the tunnel but then exited it. Goggin at some point had turned around in the tunnel and started to dig backward when the entire dune collapsed, burying Goggin.

Burt told deputies she saw the tunnel collapse on Goggin and ran over to help dig him out.

The report noted that Goggin's father, who had been playing with the children, and Burt's husband tried to dig Goggin out with their hands and a skimboard.

Burt's husband called authorities minutes after the collapse, deputies reported.

Christine Felton said she saw Goggin and his family playing in the sand before the incident. “It's a real tragedy,” Christine Felton said. They were having a fun time playing in the sand.

According to the GoFundMe page created for Goggin, he had a heartbeat, but was unable to breathe on his own.

The page has raised more than $9,600 in 18 hours.

Not only is it dangerous to dig in the dunes, it’s illegal in Florida. Altering the dunes could result in a first-degree misdemeanor.

Felton said more signs on the beach may help prevent something like this from happening again.

“I hate to see signs on the beautiful beaches because they're not natural either, but lives are more important,” Felton said.

Emergency personnel treated Goggin and took him to Flagler Hospital. Deputies reported Goggin still had a "strong heartbeat." The family has created a Gofundme account.

The hole has since been filled in.

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