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


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.