Orinda Youth In Critical Condition After Sand Tunnel Cave-In

Members of an East Bay church are gathering in support of a 17-year-old Orinda boy buried when the sand tunnel he was digging collapsed on him during a beach outing Saturday.

Friends and members of  Creekside Community Church's in Alamo are gathering in support of Ryan Buchanan, a 17-year-old Miramonte High School student and church member buried when the sand tunnel he was digging with friends collapsed on him during a beach outing to Santa Cruz Saturday.

Friends said Buchanan was not breathing when group members and lifeguards pulled him from the sand and began to administer CPR. He was estimated to have been underground for about 15 minutes. The teen was head first in the tunnel and no longer digging when it collapsed, said State Parks Supervisor Ron Callison.

Buchanan was taken by air ambulance to Valley Medical Center in San Jose, where sand was removed from his airway. Friends said he was unconscious and in critical condition, but his vital signs are good. The next 24 to 48 hours will be crucial, hospital officials told family members. A church elder said the boy appeared to be responding to the sound of people's voices.

Buchanan had just finished his junior year at Miramonte and a season playing varsity lacrosse when he joined other church members for a camping trip to Santa Cruz.

Sean Donohue, Buchanan's high school pastor at Creekside Community Church, called him a "deeply spiritual young man" who is "unbelievably and extremely loved and respected here at our church." 

A second teen caught in Saturday's collapse was also entirely covered with his head about a foot below the surface. He later said he could feel his rescuers stepping on the sand above him. He was taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and released later Saturday, according to The Santa Cruz Sentinel.

While the Sunday services were for church members only, a public prayer service for friends of Ryan is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday at the Alamo church, according to the A Time of Prayer for Ryan Buchanan Facebook page. The services will continue nightly through the week. Click here for details.

The hole the teens were digging was about 6 feet deep. The accident occurred on across from the lower picnic area, Callison said.

Sara June 27, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Best wishes to him and to his family.
Carol Ann Long June 28, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Our prayers are with him and with his family.
Lafayette Curmudgeon June 28, 2011 at 04:01 AM
They must have had a pretty good pile of sand atop the poor kid to have taken fifteen minutes to get him out. A dreadful thing. Here's hoping for the best.


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