By JOHN MONE / Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The mother of a teenage boy buried in the collapse of a sand cave on a Southern California beach thanked bystanders and emergency responders Thursday for coming to his rescue.
"I just want everyone to know from the bottom of my heart how grateful we are that he's alive," Melissa Mina of Free Union, Va., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
"If it weren't for the bystanders, they wouldn't have gotten him out. ... I wish could go out there and hug everyone there that was digging," she said.
Her son, Matt Mina, 17, was buried Wednesday in the collapse of a deep hole he dug in the sand at Newport Beach in Orange County.
Beachgoers sprang to his aid, using anything available to dig for him. Firefighters and lifeguards with shovels eventually got him out.
Melissa Mina said she got a call from her sister-in-law Wednesday evening while Matt Mina was in a hospital emergency room.
"I was told that there was an accident, he's OK though," she said.
She said she wasn't aware of how big the hole was until she saw it on TV.
"When I finally spoke to Matt last night I asked, `How does it feel to be buried alive?' ... He said, `Different, mom. You have no idea how heavy the sand was,"' she said.
The accident happened while Matt Mina was visiting an aunt and uncle.
"I said when he left I was sending guardian angels to protect him," the teen's mother said.
She said her son grew up in Hawaii for a time and had dug in sand previously.
"What would possess kids to do this? I hope they realize that this is dangerous to do," she said.