Boy, 14, Suffocates as Beach Berm Collapses, Burying Him in Sand

A 14-year old Reseda boy who was tunneling below a sand outcropping at Point Dume State Beach suffocated Sunday when the sand apparently caved in and covered him, authorities said.

Eric Hoffman was pronounced dead at Westlake Community Hospital, where he was flown by a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter after his mother and a boy he had been playing with dug him out from under the three-foot berm on the beach, county lifeguard Lt. Roger Smith said.

"He had been playing with the other boy and digging in the sand while his mother went for a walk on the beach," Smith said. "The other boy apparently became tired of digging and wandered away."

The mother returned, found her son missing and enlisted the aid of lifeguards to find him.

She spotted the area where he had been digging about the same time the other boy returned. By the time he was located, Eric was lifeless.

Lifeguards and paramedics "got good color in his face and it looked like we had a chance, so we decided to rush him to the hospital," said county fire Capt. Stan Cleveringa.

He said paramedics and doctors worked on Eric for about 45 minutes before he was pronounced dead. Smith said the boy may have been buried from 15 minutes to an hour.

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