LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLA. (WSVN) - Experts say a 7-year-old girl who died after she was buried alive in the sand in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea could have been saved if there had been lifeguards on duty on the stretch of beach where the accident happened.

Experts believe Sloan Mattingly’s death on Tuesday afternoon could have been prevented.

They said lifeguards are trained to be vigilant and watch when children are digging holes in the sand. If the sand hole gets too deep, lifeguards are there to stop them.

At the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea beach where Mattingly died, signs are posted alerting beachgoers that it has no lifeguards and to swim at their own risk. Lifesavers are on posts scattered all across the sand.

One of those posts now is home to a makeshift memorial dedicated to Sloan.

Tom Gill, vice president of the United States Lifesaving Association, a national nonprofit representing lifeguards and other rescuers, said this would not have happened at a beach with lifeguards.

“My first thought is, obviously, heartbroken for this family, and even more heartbroken knowing if we’d have lifeguards there, could they have prevented this tragedy? I would say 100% yes,” said Gill.

He said lifeguards are trained to tell people not to dig holes more than two feet deep.

“Seeing dangerous situations like that, where we know it is a potential tragedy waiting to happen, that is something that a lifeguard is bound to act on, explain what’s going on, and make sure everybody is in a safe situation [and] that hole is filled in before they leave,” said Gill.

But the beach that the vacationing family from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was visiting did not have lifeguards.

“I understand budgets, I understand costs, but at the end of the day, you’re a beach town in southern Florida,” said Gill. “Let’s protect the people that are coming here, that are spending their money to vacation.”

Witnesses said the children dug a sand hole that was five to six feet deep.

“There is nothing stable about sand,” said Gill.

Experts said sand, like waves, is dynamic and constantly changes.

“When it caves in, you are in an avalanche situation, where you’re not getting out of it,” said Gill, “and the sand is even harder to dig out then snow, because of the way – you’ve been to the beach. If you just put your hand down and lift out sand, what happens? That hole immediately fills back up.”

Sadly, the Mattingly family learned of the dangers with sand in a horrifying way.

Sloan died after the sand hole her and her brother were digging caved in on them. Beachgoers jumped into action as they tried to dig up both children.

“There’s a little girl buried under the sand, and they have not gotten her yet,” a 911 caller told the dispatcher.

Both children were transported to the hospital, where Sloan died.

In a social media post on Wednesday night, the mother of the young girl posted:  “We experienced the purest human being and we are forever changed by her. We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

An old Facebook video shows the father speaking to Sloan at a home.

“What boy are you going to love the most no matter what?” asked the father in the video as Sloan pointed to him.

If you would like to support the Mattingly family, a GoFundMe page has been set up for them.

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea officials released a statement on Thursday that said they will discuss the issue of lifeguards, ordinances and a request for a memorial for Sloan during their next town commission meeting on Tuesday.

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