Sand Dune Swallows Child: Freakish Phenomenon Nearly Claims Boy’s Life

By | June 29, 2018

A day at the beach suddenly turned into a life or death situation for a six-year-old Illinois boy in the summer of 2013. The threat to his life had nothing to do with the deep water or dangerous rip tides. In fact, it was the sand that nearly drowned the boy. Little Nathan Woessner was the victim of a freak geological event that caused a sand dune to, quite literally, swallow him alive. 

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Indiana Dunes State Park. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

Mt. Baldy Has Attracted Visitors for More Than 100 Years

The Woessner family, from Sterling, Illinois, decided to take advantage of the beautiful mid-July day with a trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This area, located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, is known for its scenic hiking trails, sparkling beaches, and picturesque sand dunes. The featured attraction is Mt. Baldy, a 126-foot tall sand dune that is nearly devoid of vegetation. Generations of visitors to the National Lakeshore have enjoyed climbing to the top of the dune and slip-sliding back down on the loose sand. This is what Nathan Woessner and his family were doing on that fateful July day. 

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The Sand Opened Up and Swallowed the Boy!

Nathan, a curious six-year-old, noticed an odd depression in the sand midway up Mt. Baldy. When he went to get a closer look, the ground suddenly went out from under him and the sand dune quickly swallowed him up. Fortunately, his parents and several other visitors witnessed Nathan’s disappearance into the sand. Efforts to dig him out by hand were futile. The more they dug, the more sand poured into the hole, burying the boy even deeper.