LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLA. (WSVN) - Authorities have identified a young girl who died when a hole she was digging with a little boy collapsed on them on the beach in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.

Broward Sheriff’s Office officials identified the children as 9-year-old Maddox Mattingly and his 7-year-old sister, Sloan Mattingly.

Sloan was pronounced dead after being transported to Broward Health Medical Center, while Maddox remains hospitalized.

The family was on vacation from Indiana when the incident occurred, officials said.

Mattingly’s father describes the young girl as “full of love and life and always smiling.”

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. Sloan points to him.

Her mother, posting on social media late Wednesday night: “We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

Jenny Fedele, principal of Lafayette Meadows Elementary, where Sloan was a student, released the following statement:

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letting you know we lost a precious member of the Lafayette Meadows School family. Sloan Mattingly was a bright, sweet, loving 1st grade student in Ms. Vanbrocklin’s class. Sloan passed away on Tuesday. We will be talking with Ms. Vanbrocklin’s class, as well as Ms. Kilbourne’s class, as Sloan’s brother is a member of that classroom, on Thursday.

Our administration team and counselors have support resources available for any student or staff member who is in need during this time of loss. Please be sure to communicate any concerns with myself, Mr. Kowalski, Ms. Blackburn or Ms. Tanesky so we can support students as needed.

Please keep the Mattingly family in your thoughts and prayers. They have requested privacy at this time. We will pass along any further information the family wishes to share.

Jenny Fedele

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Fire Rescue arrived at the scene in the area of 4424 El Mar Drive, Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a call about the children trapped in the sand.

The frantic calls to 911 captured the desperate beachgoers seeking help as they began digging the sand to rescue the children.

“Nine-one-one, what’s the address of the emergency?” a dispatcher said.

“I’m standing back. My husband is out there, and a bunch of men are digging on the beach.” said a caller.

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

“What part of the body is trapped?” said the dispatcher.

“I can’t see. There’s so many people,” said a woman. “They have not gotten the child out. They’re digging.”

“Is the child’s head above the sand?” asked the dispatcher.

“No, they don’t see her head,” said one person.

In the background of the calls, chaos is heard as the mother of the children watched in horror.

“The father started yelling for help, that his child is caught in a hole in the sand. They were digging.” said one caller.

“They need help, they really do,” said one person.

“Oh, this mother. It’s just awful,” said a person.

“It’s too long, I know.” said one person.

Police said the children were playing in the sand.

Witnesses said Maddox was in the hole but had his head out of the sand, while Sloan was still covered by the sand. Once inside the hole, the sand collapsed on them. 

“The boy was three or four feet down, but at that point, his head was above the sand. I guess his sister was beside him, and she was down further,” said witness David Davies. “They tried to dig her out, but the more they dug, the more the sand collapsed. They tried putting boards to try and keep the sand from falling in. She was down for quite a while.”

The little girl was under the sand for at least 20 minutes.

“It’s tough, it’s tough,” said Davies.

“It’s terrifying,” said a witness on the scene.

Beachgoers on Wednesday were saddened to hear what had happened the day before, as other kids played with the sand.

“It’s devastating. I mean, we’re in town from Canada with our kids,” said Daniel Capoano. “Come out for a day at the beach to hear that a kid was killed and just kinda having some fun. It’s tragic.”

There are no lifeguards on the part of the beach where the incident happened. The city has not reached back about what their lifeguard policy is.

Broward Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit detectives and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

In some cities like Fort Lauderdale, digging in the sand is against the rules.

“One reason is that it is unstable, can collapse and it can be dangerous to anyone who is digging the hole,” said Alex Bagwell with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue. “Another factor is we operate emergency vehicles on the beach.”

For the Mattingly family, the warnings are too late, but hopefully the messages will help another family.

A few days ago, a similar incident occurred in New Jersey. A 2-year-old was buried in the sand, but luckily his father was next to him, and he survived.

On the sand Wednesday night, 7News cameras captured flowers and a teddy bear left in memory of Sloan.

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