Buried Alive At The Beach: Sand Tunnel Collapse Leaves Family Devastated

INSIDE EDITION speaks to the parents of a young man who was killed in a sand tunnel collapse as they warn others about sand dangers on the beach.    

It was a frantic effort to rescue a man buried alive on the beach.

Twenty-six-year-old Adam Pye was hanging out at the beach in Northern California when he and a friend started digging two 10-foot deep diagonal holes, and then tried to connect them to make a tunnel.

Adam's mother, Debbie Pye told INSIDE EDITION, "They were digging a hole and it collapsed, and I yelled 'Get him out. Get him out."

See Debbie's Heartbreaking Interview with INSIDE EDITION

After 35 agonizing minutes of digging, firefighters reached Pye below the sand, but it was too late. Cause of death: "Suffocation; Sand hole entrapment."

A family friend gave Adam Pye's mother the news.

Debbie recalled, "I said 'Where's my baby? Is my baby ok?' He said, 'No. he's gone.'"

Digging holes on the beach is a traditional and usually fun-filled family activity. Beachgoers routinely post videos of their kids on YouTube.

In one video, a small sand tunnel collapses on a toddler.

"You can do it," said the person filming the video to the toddler.

But digging large sand tunnels can quickly turn dangerous. It's estimated that nearly 2,000 young people have died in sand hole collapses over the last decade. 

Los Angeles County lifeguard, Julio Rodriguez showed INSIDE EDITION producer Daela Citrone just how quickly a sand hole can turn into a sand trap by surrounding her with knee-deep sand.

"Try to get out," said Rodriguez.

 "I can't even move my ankles now," said Citrone.

"The sand is relatively heavy," said Rodriguez. "You're looking at about 110 pounds per cubic foot."

And digging someone out of tons of sand is a difficult task.

"For every shovelful that I get, more sand continues to fall into the hole," explained Rodriguez.

In 2011, 40 rescuers were able to free California teen Matt Mina who was trapped six feet under after a tunnel collapse.

Mina told INSIDE EDITION, "I was pretty sure I was going to die. There's no doubt. I just said my goodbyes and made my piece with the world."

Mina was trapped for about 40 minutes.

"It was miraculous for me," said Mina about his rescue.

As for Adam Pye, he had just graduated from college and was looking forward to a bright future.

"My son shouldn't lose his life in vain," said Debbie.

Pye's grieving family hopes Adam's death will serve as a warning to others.

"The most innocent, fun thing you could be doing, that you would think would cause no harm to anyone, could take your life," said Debbie.

For information on how to help Adam Pye's family, go to YouCaring.com.