Ian Spendlove dies after being trapped in Utah sand dune tunnel

A Utah teenager died after getting trapped while digging a tunnel in a sand dune, state officials said.

Ian Spendlove, 13, was declared dead on Sunday, one day after the tunnel he was digging at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab unexpectedly collapsed as he was inside, Utah State Parks officials said Monday.

Spendlove, of Santa Clara, was recovered about 25 minutes later beneath 6 1/2 feet of sand.

Relatives who saw the collapse had immediately started digging to rescue the teen. Park rangers and Kane County deputies then arrived on the scene with shovels to locate him, state park officials said.

The rescued boy was rushed to a hospital by helicopter after paramedics gave him CPR and determined he had a pulse.

“Unfortunately, on Sunday, Spendlove had not regained brain activity and was declared dead,” park officials said in a statement. “The Utah Division of State Parks extends our condolences to Ian Spendlove’s friends and family impacted by this tragedy.”

Relatives who saw the collapse immediately started digging to rescue the teen.
Getty Images

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. The large dunes at the park — estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old — are created by the erosion of coral pink Navajo sandstone, according to its website.

All of the dunes are open for hiking and “just playing in the sand,” while some are popular with ATV riders, park officials said.

“With the recreation season now underway, Utah State Parks would like to remind everyone that while Utah’s outdoors are beautiful places to explore, safety needs to be a top priority,” officials said in Monday’s statement.

Visitors should hike or explore with a partner and wear life jackets and helmets where appropriate, as well as letting others know when they expect to return, Utah State Parks said.

“Rest in peace Ian, the other two amigos are missing you deeply,” a Facebook post from Monday reads. “Prayers for the Spendlove family.”

A woman who identified herself as Ian’s aunt declined to comment when reached early Tuesday by The Post.

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