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East Bay Teen Remains In Critical Condition From Sand Collapse

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

Ryan Buchanan. (CBS)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — An Orinda teenager injured Saturday at a state beach in Santa Cruz County remains in critical condition at a San Jose hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

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.

He was taken by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where he has been treated in the pediatric intensive care unit, according to his family who has been posting updates on Ryan’s health at www.caringbridge.org/visit/ryanbuchanan.

On Wednesday, the family wrote Ryan has been taken off all his sedation medication, but was given new medicine after he had a couple of minor seizures. His lungs, heart and other organs are functioning on their own and he has shown some small movements. When his shoulders are stimulated his legs move and his eyes have responded slightly to light.

The family said he has been coughing and gagging, which is good to loosen sand that was lodged in his lungs during the collapse. Nurses can now suction out more of the sand he ingested.

The family remains cautiously optimistic about Ryan’s recovery and knows it will take time. Doctors have told them it may be a few more days before Ryan will be able to open his eyes.

“It sure will be nice to see his smile and to hear him sing again,” the family wrote.

Every night since the Saturday accident Creekside Community Church has held 7 p.m. vigils for Ryan, who will be a senior at Miramonte High School in Orinda. The vigils will continue this week at the church on 1350 Danville Blvd. in Alamo.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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