Castles Made of Sand IV: The Revenge—This Time It's Personal

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Move over, Jaws. A darker danger lurks on the beach:

The US bucket and spade brigade went on full alert [last Thursday] after research by a top physician revealed that people falling into holes dug in the sand had accounted for more fatalities in the US since 1990 than shark attacks—16 as opposed to 12.

The article, written by Dr Bradley Maron in the New England Journal of Medicine, said sand holes and tunnels, the byproduct of building sand castles and other juvenile beach fortifications, could turn into deathtraps with horrifying speed.

Although such incidents were extremely rare, Dennis Arnold, who runs a beach patrol at Martha's Vineyard, off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, said lifeguards were under orders to stop children digging deep holes. Occasionally some parents protest, he said. "They'll say 'You're ruining my kid's day!' and I say 'I don't care!'," Mr Arnold was quoted as saying.

Maron's article—more of a letter, really—is available to New England Journal subscribers here.

NEXT: Florida=Korea & Texas=Canada

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  1. Thank god. This situation was really getting out of hand.

  2. When the holes are policed, only the police will be…

  3. If one beach doesn’t allow your kids to make sand castles, you’re completely free to go to another beach that does.

  4. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 21 years (mean, 12 years), with 15 persons (29%) 10 years of age or younger; 45 (87%) were male.

    Why do sandcastle builders hate men?

  5. Wouldn’t it just be simpler to increase the number of shark attacks? That would reduce the newsworthiness of this story.

    CB


  6. Why do sandcastle builders hate men?

    I think it’s likely due to the fact that men are too busy ogling the honeys instead of watching where they walk 🙂

  7. You know, I could see how trolling Dan T. makes for hours of fun and is hoo-larious, but there is an outside chance he will see this as ridiculous as the rest of us. Uh, right?

  8. Wouldn’t it just be simpler to increase the number of shark attacks?

    CB wins.

  9. What if they’re wetland lobster sanctuaries?

  10. This will no longer be a problem when we get the right people to fall into holes.

  11. Good thing the New England Journal of Medicine is covering this issue…nothing screams Medicine like people falling into holes…

  12. How is one fatality every 16 months for millions of beach-goers even considered a risk?

  13. Digging holes is the only thing that keeps my kid from slinging chum out into the waves, attracting sharks.

  14. How is one fatality every 16 months for millions of beach-goers even considered a risk?

    You can’t control people’s behavior at the barrel of a gun* without some hyped up danger, dude. If it saves just one child…

    * Dan T. running gag

  15. Did they consider adding a people who are run over by beach patrol ATVs while buried under the sand category?

  16. I’m impressed by the kids who are digging holes deep enough to bury a man.

    Notice that this comes down to less than one sand castle death a year–and shark attack deaths are less that one every two years.

    Although one wonders about all those bodies buried under the sand that nobody knows about, which will be dug up as fossils by the cockroach civilization 100,000,000 years since.

  17. Another in a long lists of examples of why the Onion just isn’t that funny anymore; real life has gotten so rediculous you just can’t parody it anymore. Seriously, if you cut and pasted that story word for word into the Onion, would anyone notice?

  18. We were warned about this in 1981!

  19. Hmmm. The MSM clearly has an anti-Florida bias. Always going on about the deadly sharks, beaches, hurricanes, sun, old age, giant mice, etc. Harumph.

  20. Oh, and exploding spacecraft. Damned anti-Florida media!

  21. Damned anti-Florida media!

    Yeah. As long as the media just reported the facts about the sunshine state, then peoples perception of Florida and Floridian would be … Never mind.

  22. sand holes and tunnels, the byproduct of building sand castles and other juvenile beach fortifications, could turn into deathtraps with horrifying speed.

    Um, what? It’s the speed at which these holes turn into “deathtraps” that is the horrifying bit? “Oh God! If only that deathtrap had become one more slowly! That would have provided me some small measure of solace as I lie here broken-necked!”

  23. Reason‘s slow on the uptake this week. I saw this earlier on the Daily Illuminator. You were scooped by a game company. This would never have happened under Virginia Postrel! 😉

  24. Even if the fatality rate from collapsing holes is low, what’s wrong with trying to reduce it even further by convincing the beach owners to post and enforce rules about hole digging? Basically, these are deaths that didn’t need to happen.

    The posts on this story disappoint me. There has to be a sensible libertarian solution under which rights are protected *and* people don’t die needlessly.

  25. they can have my hole (uh, sand castle hole) when they pry it out of my cold, dead, sandy fingers…

  26. Wait a sec.

    Grylliade gave us (deliberately) one to drink. But what about Derrick. Is that two drinks? Or how do we do that one?

    I’m disappointed in Derrick’s post. It wasn’t self righteous enough. Surely there’s a libertarian position that is totally silly (in “the Colonel’s” meaning) *and* completely beside the point…

    [ducks. runs off]

  27. Derrick,

    It’s called, “freakish accidents will happen no matter what…get over it!”

    If you’re afraid of it, stay inside your home.

  28. The 17-year-old was playing football with friends when he jumped for a pass and fell backward into an eight-foot-deep hole someone had dug earlier.

    Sorry to be morose, but…

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  29. Actually, Florida has been made intentionally dangerous in order to breed a special elite fighting force for the future.

  30. Derrick

    I suppose privately-owned beaches could make “no digging holes” one of the conditions of use.

    However, the nannyism of this policy – designed to deal with an average of 1 fatality per year (or per how many million sand castles) is ridiculous.

    There is no human activity that does not have an inherent risk. I am willing to bet 10 (or 20 or 30) times as many people choke to death on Thanksgiving turkey each year. Are you going to ban turkey?

  31. There has to be a sensible libertarian solution under which rights are protected *and* people don’t die needlessly.

    Since when is dying of stupidity needless? I encourage it. If anything it is needful.

  32. these are deaths that didn’t need to happen.

    Says you.

    Never liked beach patrol guys. I put pungee sticks in my sand-traps.

  33. If you’re afraid of it, stay inside your home.

    We’ve been warned about this, too! Is no place safe?

  34. There has to be a sensible libertarian solution under which rights are protected *and* people don’t die needlessly.

    There is. It’s called “watch where you’re going, dumbass.” We’d make it into a snazzy, patriotic acronym, but we aren’t Congressional enough.

  35. I suppose privately-owned beaches could make “no digging holes” one of the conditions of use.

    that’s basically what i had in mind, except maybe something more like “no holes deeper than 2 feet” or something.

  36. “Keep Underfoot Neat and Tidy”

  37. Derrick,

    2-foot holes are the most dangerous, as they are less visible… the silent killer.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you regulate how high I may climb a tree, or what the maximum arc of a baseball should be.

    Shall we have the FDA regulate mud pies too?

  38. As VM has shown, we apparently are Congressional enough. So here is the title of my new bill:

    Safe And Victorious Enhancements Impeding Danger In Our Treacherous Sands.

  39. LOTS OF SAND IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

    COINCIDENCE? THE URKOBOLD THINKS NOT.

  40. Urkobold (and I speak to you in only the most reverential tones) when didst thou begin referring to one’s mighty self with a preceding article? It makes thou seem less awe-inspiring and superior.

  41. Convention from the German –

    look – there’s Hans
    da schau her – es ist der Hans.

    “Hi. I’m Monika
    “Servus. Ich bin die Monika”

    Otherwise: der UKROBOLD shall use whatever article (definite, indefinite, null) deemed necessary.

  42. Not only did my nephews and nieces dig holes last summer at the beach, some of them even played with sea shells. Do you have any idea how jagged those edges can be?

  43. Here in Oregon, our beaches have – and I shudder to say it – rocks.

  44. “some of them even played with sea shells”

    playing is okay. But she would need a special permit to sell them by the seashore.

    [runs]

  45. Legate Damar,

    [Taking a rare, rare break from trolling]

    Well, my good man, randomly inserting or failing to insert definite articles keeps the audience off balance, don’t you know. When I received my fifteenth PhD in Trolling, my thesis was on the hermeneutics of abuse via grammatical methodologies.

    [Trolling break over]

    LEGATE DAMARASS,

    DO NOT ASK WHY THE URKOBOLD BURIES YOU IN THE COLD, COLD GROUND. SIMPLY ACCEPT IT.

  46. Urkobold (and I speak to you in only the most reverential tones) when didst thou begin referring to one’s mighty self with a preceding article?

    Must’ve just graduated from THE Ohio State.


  47. Must’ve just graduated from THE Ohio State.

    Ugh…

    It’s obvious that Urkobold was the founding father of THE U.

  48. “It’s been almost like a vendetta for him,” said Dennis Arnold, who runs the beach patrol in the Martha’s Vineyard community of Edgartown

    Guy’s got no clue what a vendetta is, none.

  49. Collapsing sand pits? Thats not news! I’ve got an unpublished report based on anecdotes by a lifeguard who may be concocted that will knock your socks off. The real danger is not the pits themselves but rather the illegal immigrant Muslim child predators who lurk in the pits. They lure teens into their clutches with promises of pornography, marijuana and violent video games.

  50. I warned you.

  51. Well, that was synchronicity/serendipity!

  52. How is one fatality every 16 months for millions of beach-goers even considered a risk?

    Much the same way that one beach enforcing an overly strict rule is considered a news story.

  53. Does this mean that Nickelodeon Studios is going to have to go back and digitally remove all of the dirt pits in the movie Holes?

  54. “Wouldn’t it just be simpler to increase the number of shark attacks? That would reduce the newsworthiness of this story.”

    The numbers are much higher (although statistically still small).

    Shark attack mortality is not counted if “provoked” or if there is any question that the depredation MIGHT be post mortem (if you are attacked then drown it is a drowning).

    Survive with severe trauma? It doesn’t “count”.

    Attacked and eaten with no witnesses and no recovery of the body? Not counted.

    The International Shark Attack Database researchers try to minimize fatal shark attacks
    in order to fend off “hysteria” and “retaliation”.

  55. They are in the pocket of Big Shark.

  56. No, Stevo, Big Shark Week. July 29 to August 4. (No, I’m not in the pocket of Big Discovery Channel.)

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