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Vigils Held For Orinda Teen Critically Hurt In Beach Sand Tunnel Collapse

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Sand Collapse Victim Ryan Buchanan, Sunset State Beach, Santa Cruz Co.

Ryan Buchanan. (CBS)

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ALAMO (CBS SF) – More than 150 people have come to two prayer sessions for an Orinda teenager who was injured at a beach in Santa Cruz County on Saturday when a tunnel he was in digging in the sand collapsed on him.

Ryan Buchanan, 17, was on a field trip to Sunset State Beach near Watsonville with a group from Creekside Community Church in Alamo.

Ryan and a 17-year-old friend 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.

The tunnel collapsed and buried Ryan and his friend. The other boy was rescued from the sand within about five minutes, but Ryan was deeper in the sand and was pulled from the sand a few minutes after his friend.

Ryan was taken by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where he remains in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

His family has created a website, www.caringbridge.org/visit/ryanbuchanan, where they have been posting updates on Ryan’s condition. They said Ryan is still listed in critical condition in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, where he is slowly being weaned off sedative drugs. They wrote there are chances of short-term or long-term brain damage.

A brain scan performed Monday showed Ryan was having seizures, which doctors medicated. His family said Ryan has not had seizures in the past 12 hours, but that the healing process will be long.

“This is a marathon; not a sprint, and therefore we are patiently praying,” the family wrote.

Creekside Community Church high school pastor Sean Donohue said 150 people have come to the Sunday and Monday night church vigils in Alamo to pray for Buchanan, who just finished his junior year at Miramonte High School in Orinda.

“These meetings are also a time for our teenagers and adults to share their experience, to grieve, to pray and to worship together,” Donohue said.

Donohue said Ryan plays varsity lacrosse for Miramonte High School and is “a deeply spiritual young man and is unbelievably and extremely loved and respected here at our church.”

Prayer sessions for Ryan and his family will continue 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.)

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