Nearly Buried Alive

3/23/2008 Fresno Rescuers say a sand cave collapsed on them Thursday at the Montana De Oro State Beach north of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

19 year old Nathaniel Aguirre and his 15 year old cousin Vincent are lucky to be spending this Easter at home in Fresno.

Just three days ago the two had to be rescued when a sand cave collapsed on them. "I don't know how fast it was, it just came down on you like that. I looked up and saw darkness, I thought I was going to die," recalls Nathaniel.

The teens were exploring a dug out sand cave and started to dig more when it gave in. They say the pressure of the cold wet sand made breathing nearly impossible and felt like being smashed by a sumo wrestler.

"The sand was all in my back and my head. I couldn't move, it was like I was frozen," recalls Vincent.

"You're so tight you can't move an inch, you can't breathe. I couldn't expand my chest because the dirt was so tight, you have to take small breaths," Nathaniel says.

Nathaniel's sister Gabriella heard them screaming and used her cast to dig out her cousin first, then her brother to keep them from suffocating.

"When I saw him, I just saw his hair that's it. I didn't even see my brother at all, he was covered. And I had to dig him out and dig really fast to get his head out," says Gabriella.

Rescuers carried Vincent out on a stretcher and used a helicopter to fly him to the hospital. Doctors told the cousins they're lucky to escape with only bruises.

Nathaniel says, "They told me you usually don't make it. Dr. told me they usually got to get dead bodies out there, that we're so lucky we made it. I guess it wasn't our time- wasn't our time to go."

Instead it's a time for this family to appreciate a new-found closeness. John Aguirre, Vincent's father, says "We've had some hard times in the last year, kind of separated the family a little bit, but this really brought us back together. It made us realize you know that family comes first."

Two Fresno brothers who also happened to be at the beach helped rescue the teens.

The family wants to look into posting caution signs to warn others about the danger.

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