Parents of 7-Year-Old Girl Killed by Beach Sand Hole Break Silence

The parents of 7-year-old Sloan Mattingly, who was killed in a sand hole collapse on a Florida beach last month, recalled the tragic accident for the first time.

By Sabba Rahbar Mar 14, 2024 9:10 PMTags
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Therese and Jason Mattingly are speaking out after a tragedy rocked their family.

More than one month after their daughter Sloan Mattingly, 7, died due to injuries sustained while she was trapped in a Florida sand hole, the couple are looking back on that devastating day.

"It was kind of a blur, and it's probably maybe my mind protecting myself," Jason told Good Morning America March 14. "But it just happened so fast. In my mind I had her in my hands, but the weight of the sand was too much."

Echoing her husband, Therese added, "It didn't matter that we were literally right there. It was just a hole and then it was nothing. And then it just became chaos and horror."

The tragedy occurred on Feb. 20 when Sloan and her 9-year-old brother Maddix were digging a hole in the sand while on the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The hole began to collapse, trapping both children. It took twenty minutes to fully dig them out of the sand, with Maddix being rescued first. Sloan was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to Good Morning America.

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In the wake of the tragedy, the family expressed gratitude to those on the beach to dropped everything to come and help.

"Thank you to the first responders," Jason said. "Everyone tried their hardest and unfortunately it didn't work out in our favor."

Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Therese was especially grateful to a nurse who stayed with Maddix while she worked to rescue her daughter.

"Once Maddix got out of the sand, and they were checking him out on the beach, she stayed with him because I wanted to be digging," she said through tears. "She sat with him the whole time, and she was so kind."

The family now hopes that people remember Sloan for the positivity she brought into the world, noting she was "a beam of light."

"She just lived life," Jason continued. "She would come out in the morning and she would fist pump right out of bed. She'd always be so happy."

But more importantly, the couple hope they can "save another family going through this."

Sharing a public plea to future bystanders, he added, "Strangers, if you see something that's dangerous, take the courage and say something."

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