SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (CBS SF) – An East Bay teen was in critical condition Monday after a sand tunnel he was digging at Sunset State Beach in Santa Cruz County collapsed on top of him over the weekend.

The Creekside Community Church in Alamo will be holding nightly prayer sessions this week for Seventeen-year-old Ryan Buchanan. According to a Facebook page set up by the church’s high school pastor Sean Donohue, Buchanan was on a church high school field trip to to the beach, which is located in unincorporated Santa Cruz County just west of Watsonville.

Ryan and another boy, both 17, had dug two holes in the sand with a tunnel connecting them, said Mike McMenamy, public safety superintendent for the Santa Cruz state parks district.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

McMenamy estimated that the holes were about 7 feet deep with a tunnel at the bottom that connected them.

“They were in and about these holes when the tunnel part and presumably part of the holes collapsed and buried them,” McMenamy said.

“People started screaming and digging to get the kids out,” McMenamy said.

The lifeguards, who were only about 125 yards away, were alerted to the situation about 4:30 p.m. and quickly began digging as well, McMenamy said.

While they were working, firefighters from Cal Fire and the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District joined the rescue efforts, along with two ambulance crews, deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol officers and state park rangers.

Rescuers had the first boy out of the sand within about five minutes and the second boy, Ryan, who was deeper in the sand, was pulled out a few minutes after that, McMenamy said.

The first boy was taken by ambulance to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, where he was released that evening, McMenamy said.

Ryan was taken by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

On Sunday, Donohue wrote on Facebook, “As of right now Ryan has a great heartbeat and blood pressure, healthy lungs, and as of this morning, the first brain scan report was good. The next 24-48 hours are crucial.”

“My heart goes out to the family and the community,” McMenamy said.

The prayer sessions for Ryan and his family will be held every night this week at 7 p.m. at the Creekside Community Church in Alamo, located at 1350 Danville Blvd.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (11)
  1. mike says:

    I don’t pray much, but I’m saying a prayer for you Brian. Pull through this man!

    Mike C.
    Danville, CA

  2. Janelle Gibson says:

    All of us in Dublin, San Ramon, Danville and Alamo,send our “very best wishes” to Brian and his Family, we “pray'” for a full and speedy recovery of Brian, may god be with your family in this time of “trial”.Our love and prayers…..everyday,till you get on up!!

  3. Miss Dee says:

    This must be the third sand burying story I’ve read this month! People don’t realize how heavy and deadly sand is. Please be careful and don’t let your kids do this kind of thing!

  4. Janelle Gibson says:

    I meant to say “Ryan Buchanan”, [sorry Ryan, read the “above”- after the article] hang in there, we are “all” praying for “you” darlin. Praying for strength for your family.

  5. MdK band says:

    Ryan, we are praying for you and extending our thoughts of comfort to your family until you wake…. We your friends await the sounds of your laughter, smiles and cheer… Our show Saturday was in honor of you our friend and this Fridays show is in honor of you! Your friends, MdK “Modern Day Kids”, the band of teens from San Ramon and members of the creekside community church youth group…

  6. Brandywine3 says:

    It’s a good thing the rescue people from Alameda weren’t around. They’d still be running around claiming who’s responsible. Hope this boy survives.

  7. Sam Mallory says:

    I am not a faith believing man but I hope the force is strong with this young man.

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