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Parents of a 7-year-old who died when a hole she was digging at the beach collapsed share their story

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In a heartfelt and cautionary message, Therese and Jason Mattingly have come forward to share the harrowing experience that led to the loss of their seven-year-old daughter, Sloan, during a family outing to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida.

This tragedy unfolded last month, capturing global attention and sorrow.

The day began as an idyllic beach visit, described by the Mattinglys as “perfect,” until an unforeseen disaster struck. Sloan and her nine-year-old brother Maddox were engaged in a seemingly harmless activity, digging a hole in the sand, when suddenly, their playful endeavor turned into a nightmare. The sand hole collapsed, burying Sloan and partially trapping Maddox.

Onlookers and family members, including Therese and Jason, immediately sprang into action in a desperate attempt to rescue the children. While Maddox was quickly freed, the effort to rescue Sloan became a race against time. Despite the frantic rescue attempts, Sloan was later pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital.

The incident has left the Mattingly family devastated. They describe themselves as cautious parents who always prioritize safety, stating to Good Morning America that the dangers of digging deep holes on the beach had never crossed their minds. “When we go to the beach, we think of water safety. And this never, ever once crossed my mind,” Therese Mattingly expressed, highlighting the unexpected nature of the accident.

The Mattinglys’ tragic loss serves as a poignant reminder of the unforeseen dangers that can lurk in everyday activities. The grief-stricken parents are now advocating for awareness, hoping to prevent such tragedies from befalling other families. Jason Mattingly shared the profound impact the event has had on Maddox, emphasizing the family’s commitment to support him through this difficult time and ensure Sloan remains in their hearts.

As the Mattingly family mourns Sloan, their story is a call to action for increased safety awareness and vigilance in all aspects of family outings, including those activities that may seem harmless. Their courage in speaking out serves as a legacy to Sloan’s memory, with a message of love, caution, and the importance of cherishing every moment.