sand dune accident

(Photo: South Haven Police Department)

12-Year-Old Boy Scout Dies In Sand Dune Collapse

Police say it's believed to have been a "tragic accident"

October 01, 2018 - 10:21 am

SOUTH HAVEN (WWJ) - A 12-year-old boy has died after he was buried in sand in West Michigan. 

According to South Haven police, it happened Saturday afternoon at a camp located just north of the Van Buren State Park, at the edge of Lake Michigan. 

Police responded to a 911 call at around 4:15 p.m. to find a scout leader performing CPR on the boy, identified as Gage Wilson from Portage, Michigan, near Kalamazoo. An officer and a volunteer from the South Haven Area Emergency Services took over CPR and early resuscitation efforts were able to find a pulse, police said.

The boy was taken to a waiting ambulance, according to South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson, but efforts were slowed due too difficult terrain including dunes, trails and water. 

Wilson was then airlifted to a Kalamazoo-area hospital where he died. 

Although investigation is ongoing, Thompson said in a statement that this appears to have been "a tragic accident."

Police said Wilson had apparently dug into the side of a sand dune and crawled into a small space before the dune collapsed on top of him. It's unclear who was supposed to be supervising Wilson at the time of the incident, but police said two boys who were with him said he was buried for up to 30 minutes before anyone noticed he was missing. 

Gage had been participating in a scout activity with Scouts of America when the accident happened, police said. The Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America released a statement, saying, “This is a very difficult time for our scouting family.” 

A message posted on Facebook by Pathfinder Church, where the boy's family attends, said that Wilson was in the sixth grade, and was very active.

"Many of our children and children's ministry workers knew Gage," the message reads. " ...He has gone to be with Jesus."

Church leaders said professional grief counselors, pastors and healing prayer ministers would be available at the church, on S. Westnedge Ave. in Portage, Monday evening to "help anyone who needs to process what has happened with the loss of Gage."

Autopsy results are pending. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.