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Boy Recounts Surviving Sand Hill Collapse

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(Credit: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

SARANAC (AP) - An 11-year-old boy who was buried under a sand hill while playing near his Michigan home said he remembers the sand closing in before he lost consciousness and lay trapped for up to about 20 minutes.

Nicholas Nelson, of Saranac, told The Grand Rapids Press on Tuesday that he recalls the first moments after the sand caved in on him Sunday while he and his 16-year-old brother, Kyle Rininger, were digging tunnels near their home in Ionia County’s Boston Township.

The sand “would come down on me and just kept squishing me,” Nicholas said.

Rininger ran to get his mother and called 911, and he recalled wondering whether his brother would survive. He and Nicholas were in separate holes when suddenly everything seemed to cave in.

“It just kept falling and falling,” Rininger said.

On the 911 call, Rininger was asked whether his brother was visible or able to talk or breathe.

“I don’t know,” he told the 911 dispatcher. “I ran. I tried to get him out and I couldn’t dig fast enough so I ran up to my house.”

Dozens of rescuers, friends and neighbors arrived within minutes, and firefighters used shovels and their hands to dig out Nicholas. Rescuers said Nicholas was found covered by about a foot of sand and was breathing when taken to DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids by helicopter.

He was treated, held overnight and released Monday.

Aimee Nelson said she was thankful for those who quickly came to her son’s rescue.

“It’s a miracle that he’s here,” she said. “He’s a very lucky little boy.”

Nicholas said Tuesday that he remembered part of the helicopter ride and that he has learned a lesson from the ordeal.

“Don’t dig holes unless you have a degree or you’re a professional,” he said.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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