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Teen Victim of Sand-Tunnel Collapse Still in Critical Condition

September 29, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A 15-year-old Oxnard boy who was briefly trapped underground when a sand tunnel he and his friends were digging collapsed was still in critical condition Sunday afternoon.

Alex Gaona was transferred to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara late Saturday after receiving treatment at Ventura County Medical Center. The teenager was admitted to Cottage Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, according to a hospital official.

Alex and four friends were at a section of Hollywood Beach near Ocean Drive and Channel Islands Boulevard digging large tunnels at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday when the cave-in occurred, authorities said.

The teenager's friends, who were not injured, have not been identified because they are juveniles.

When Alex attempted to pass through the 4-foot-deep tunnel, it gave way and covered him with sand for about five minutes before his friends and other beach-goers rescued him. One of them performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department considers the incident to be an accident and an official said no foul play was suspected.

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