Boy Scouts in sand tragedy: Gage Wilson Gage Wilson dies in sand dune collapse.
A 12-year-old Kalamazoo-area Boy Scout is dead after he was buried in sand at North Point County Park in Van Buren County over the weekend.
Sgt. Mike Knizewski said the South Haven Police Department responded to reports of an unresponsive boy around 4:11 p.m., later identified at 12-year-old Gage Wilson, of Portage, after he was found by two members of the Boy Scout troop.
Gage was buried in sand alongside the beach of the state park, according to officers. Leaders from the troop were trying to save his life, Knizewski said, and were later relieved by South Haven Area Emergency Services. He was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo and later died from his injuries.
“Who would have thought that kids playing in the sand would lead to a tragedy like this?” said Sgt. Zach Hathaway, South Haven Police.
According to police, an initial investigation determined that Gage was digging into the side of a dune hill and was accompanied by two other members of the troop. He managed to dig far enough into the side of the hill to crawl into the small space, but the the sand hill collapsed, trapping him inside. The two Boy Scouts who were with Gage did not notice he was missing for up to 30 minutes, police said.
“They saw part of his body. I think his legs were exposed out of the sand, and that’s when they realized something was wrong,” Hathaway said.
First responders said it was a challenge to get Gage out of the area where he was buried and over to a safe area where he could be taken by helicopter to the hospital.
“They had to trek and walk up the sand dune, kind of meandering through the area that’s wooded with ravines and eventually walk back to the sand dune’s water edge,” Hathaway said.
Don Shepard, the chief executive officer of the Michigan Crossroads Council and Boy Scouts of America, released a statement on the incident:
“This is a very difficult time for our Scouting family. We are sad to confirm the death of one of our youth members following an accident at a Scouting event. We offer our deepest condolences to the victim and his family, and we will support them in any way that we can. Please join us in keeping all those affected in your thoughts and prayers.”
An autopsy will be conducted Monday.
South Haven Police told Newschannel 3 this is a tragic accident, but they hope many can learn a lesson.
“Any time you have an area that’s unstable dirt or sand, there’s always a potential for something like this,” Hathaway said.