Family pay tribute to ‘always happy’ girl, 7, killed when sand hole collapse on Florida beach

A aGoFundMe has been launched for Sloan Mattingly, the seven-year-old who died after falling in a collapsed sand hole last week, to support her family after her tragic death.

Sally Krouse launched the fundraiser to support Sloan’s family members, Jason, Therese and nine-year-old brother Maddox. As of Sunday afternoon, donors had raised more than $130,000, just shy of the $150,000 goal.

“Don’t tell us you’re sorry for our loss…don’t do that to us,” Sloan’s mother said in a statement posted to the GoFundMe. “We experienced the purest human being and we are forever changed by her. We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

Jason Mattingly posted a photo on Facebook of a beam of light shining on the beach after Sloan’s passing.

“This beam of light was photographed the day after the tragedy,” he wrote. “I truly appreciate whoever took it and let us know our baby is in heaven.”

Sloan’s uncle, Chris Sloan, told local outlet KFOR about the young girl’s personality.

“She was always happy,” he said. “She was really fun to be around. She had a lot of energy and just totally innocent, and that’s what hurts the most in all this.”

Sloan and her family were on vacation in Florida from Fort Wayne, Indiana when tragedy struck on 20 February. Sloan and Maddox were digging a hole at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s beach when the sand collapsed, opening into a five-foot hole. Maddox was buried up to his chest, while his younger sister was completely submerged.

Sloan Mattingly died last week after becoming trapped in a collapsed sand hole (Screengrab/CBS News Miami)
Sloan Mattingly died last week after becoming trapped in a collapsed sand hole (Screengrab/CBS News Miami)

Rescuers arrived in minutes as bystanders attempted to dig the children out.

Sandra King, spokesperson for the Pompano Beach Fire-Rescue Department, said last week rescue crews used shovels to dig out the sand and boards to stabilize the hole, but the Sloan had no pulse and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

As of Thursday, Maddox was still in the hospital recovering, WLWT reports.

On Friday, community members of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea held a memorial for Sloan, CBS News reports.

Collapsed sand holes have proven deadly for beachgoers in the past.

Two years ago, an 18-year-old died after he and his 17-year-old sister were trapped in a sand collapse at a beach in Ocean County, New Jersey. His sister was rescued by the police.