First responders had to dig for 25 minutes before they could pull Tessa Filmer-Gallagher from the neck-high sand hole

By Joelle Goldstein
July 21, 2020 02:45 PM
Advertisement
Nauset Beach in Cape Cod
| Credit: Getty

A day at the beach went terribly wrong for one 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts who became trapped in the sand after a hole she was digging collapsed around her.

Tessa Filmer-Gallagher is lucky to be alive following the scary incident at Chatham beach in Cape Cod on Sunday afternoon, according to Boston station, WHDH.

Though it took close to 30 minutes and a number of first responders from Chatham Harbormaster, the Coast Guard and Chatham Fire Department, the teen was eventually freed from the hole, leaving her and her mother shaken up from the terrifying ordeal.

"We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to somebody else," Tessa's mom, Heidi Filmer-Gallagher, told the outlet. "She was the first to say she’ll never dig another hole."

Heidi said she learned of her daughter's scary situation through a phone call, telling WHDH, "One of the kids called me and when I answered I could barely hear them I said, 'What’s going on?' And they said, 'Tessa is buried.'"

First responders were immediately called to the scene, where they found Tessa trapped in the sand up to her neck.

"She was scared, but well-composed," Skip Woods, Chatham's Assistant Harbormaster recalled to CBS affiliate WBZ-TV, while fellow Assistant Harbormaster Mike Ryder added that they "started digging around her, but it started collapsing even more around her head."

As this was unfolding, Heidi said her daughter was surprisingly calm but struggling to breathe due to the "cement"-like sand.

“She was very calm, I think she may have been in shock but she was also cold 'cause the sand was wet sand,” Heidi recalled to WBZ. “[It] would compress and make it hard for her to breathe. It was like cement."

“Everything was buried up to her neck," Heidi added to WBZ-TV. "She literally can’t move under this."

She also noted that she wanted to help with the rescue, especially when her daughter appeared to be struggling in the sand, but knew she should let the professionals handle the situation.

"It was hard for me cause I wanted to help shovel and they wouldn’t let me help," Heidi told WHDH. "The rescue team was absolutely amazing."

RELATED VIDEO: Texas Dad Dies After Sand Tunnel Buries Him Alive on Florida Family Vacation: 'Our Hearts Ache'

Over the course of the next 25 minutes, firefighters dug out the sand while also taking proper steps to protect Tessa from another potential sand collapse.

"They were able to put a pipe over her body so as they tried to dig her out, if it was continuing to collapse around her in that unstable environment, it would maintain a barrier around her body [and] around her airway to make sure her airway stayed protected," Deputy Chief Justin Tavano with the Chatham Fire Department explained to WBZ-TV.

"We were fortunate in that her face and airway were above the level of collapse, [so] she was able to breathe," Tavano added.

After successfully rescuing the teen, Tessa was transported to the Chatham fish pier via boat, where an ambulance was waiting, according to WBZ-TV.

She was evaluated by medical personnel but determined to be in good condition and was not required to go to the hospital, the outlet reported.