Texas Dad Dies After Sand Tunnel Buries Him Alive on Florida Family Vacation: ‘Our Hearts Ache’

Lee Goggin, the 35-year-old Texas father of three who was buried alive by a tunnel he was digging in the sand during a family vacation in Florida on Sunday, has died.

“It is with great sorrow and sadness that I write this. My precious, big brother is with Jesus,” Goggin’s sister, Rachel Goggin Burt, wrote on Facebook. “Our hearts are shattered, but we don’t grieve without hope.”

“Our hearts ache greatly, but Heaven just got so much sweeter than it already was,” she continued.

Goggin, of Dallas, Texas, was trapped under two to three feet of sand as the St. John’s County Fire Rescue team worked to free him at a beach in St. Augustine, Florida, on Sunday. By the time they reached him, he was in cardiac arrest. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

“He has a heartbeat, but he is not breathing on his own,” Burt wrote on a GoFundMe page created by the family. “The next 24 hours will be very critical for him and we need all the prayers we can get.”

According to the police incident report obtained by PEOPLE, Burt told officers that Goggin was digging for quite some time while his wife Courtney shot video on her cellphone. They first tried to dig him out on their own, but after one minute, they called 911 for help.

When help arrived, it took the rescue team 30 minutes to get him out. He was then transferred to Flagler Hospital.

Burt, her husband, Brandon and their three children traveled to Florida with the Goggins for a family trip to Disney World. They decided to stop at a nearby beach for the children to “stretch and burn some energy” before their afternoon check-in time at their hotel.

While at the beach, Goggin began to dig in the soft white sand near some dunes. That’s when Burt saw the sand collapse on him and she began screaming.

“He essentially dug a tunnel by hand,” Jeremy Robshaw, spokesman for St. John’s County Fire Rescue, told the newspaper. “He was digging alongside the dunes, which are about three to five feet high. Apparently, the sand collapsed on him and the individual was trapped.”

PEOPLE.com

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