Caught on Video: Dramatic Sand Rescue in Newport Beach

Authorities are warning beach-goers not to dig large tunnels in the sand, after a teenager was rescued, buried beneath the sand in Newport Beach Wednesday.

Lifeguards say they have an unwritten rule; no holes deeper than knee-high.  They say, if they see someone digging a hole, and it appears to be dangerous, they will tell them to stop.

The teenager was pulled out of the sand after 20 minutes, and surfing journalist Skip Snead caught it all on video.

Snead is  the former Editor of Surfing Magazine and current Publisher of Ghetto Juice Magazine. He had a personal interest when he saw the big scene near his beach home. He has a young son who could have been out there. He raced out to the beach and got the good news.

"They said, no, they don't know who it is," said Snead

Paramedics and lifeguards were called to the beach just east of the Santa Ana River at about 3:40 p.m., according to Jennifer Schulz of the Newport Beach Fire Department.

Matt Mina, 17, was digging a hole about five feet below the surface when the surrounding sand caved in on him.  Mina was buried face down, but managed to move his head and create an air bubble to breath.  That's how he managed to stay alive.

"I thought I was going to die," Mina said on TODAY. "I was just really scared. I didn’t know if anyone could hear me when I was screaming for help."

Snead said the big turnout of rescue crews and volunteers was dramatic and a little bit chaotic.

"Everybody wanted to help," said Snead. "But it was backfiring because they were like caving it in a little. The sand just rushes in."

Snead didn't think it would end well.


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"I think everyone was expecting them to pull up a dead body," said Snead. "Especially after like 20 minutes."

Lifeguards were able to free him in about a half-hour,  Schulz said.

Mina taken to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and was released late Thursday.

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