Boy Scout crawled into a sand dune — then it collapsed and trapped him inside, cops say

Gage Wilson, 12, died while climbing into a sand dune during a Boy Scout event at North Point County Park, police said.
Gage Wilson, 12, died while climbing into a sand dune during a Boy Scout event at North Point County Park, police said. Facebook/Mike Krafcik

At a Michigan county park known as the “old Boy Scout Camp,” a group of Boy Scouts were playing in the sand while at the coast.

One of the Scouts was digging into the side of a sand dune hill at North Point County Park, Michigan police told WWMT. The boy dug far enough into the dune that he was able to crawl inside of the hill, the station reported.

But while he was inside, the sand dune collapsed — and trapped the boy inside, police said, according to WWMT.

That boy has since been identified as 12-year-old Gage Wilson from Portage, Michigan, the South Haven Police Department posted to Facebook.

Police were called to the dune at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday after the two Boy Scouts who had been with Gage “saw part of his body” buried under sand, Sgt. Zach Hathaway with South Haven Police told WWMT. The two boys hadn’t noticed Gage had been missing for up to 30 minute, police said, according to WWMT.

“I think his legs were exposed out of the sand, and that’s when they realized something was wrong,” Hathaway told WWMT.

Police told WOOD that Gage was trapped under sand for 15-30 minutes.

When police got the park, Gage “was completely covered in sand,” Hathaway said, according to WOOD.

In the Facebook post, police said that scout leaders were performing CPR on Gage when officers arrived, and then emergency officials took over.

“The early resuscitation efforts were able to establish a pulse in the victim,” police said on Facebook. “Efforts were then made through difficult terrain including dunes, trails, and water to transport the victim to a waiting ambulance.”

Once Gage was in the ambulance, he was taken to an Air Care helicopter and life-flighted to a hospital, according to the post.

It was at that hospital where Gage died “as a result of injuries sustained,” police said.

“Who would have thought that kids playing in the sand would lead to a tragedy like this,” Hathaway told WWMT.

The incident is still under investigation, police said on Facebook, but it is thought to be a “tragic accident.”

“This is a very difficult time for our Scouting family,” Donald Shepard, CEO and Scout Executive of the Michigan Crossroad Council, posted to Facebook. “We are sad to confirm the death of one of our youth members following an accident at a Scouting event. We offer our deepest condolences to the victim and his family, and we will support them in any way that we can. Please join us in keeping all those affected in your thoughts and prayers.”

The Council said “safety is integral to everything we do, and the BSA places great importance on prevention and preparedness to create the most secure environment possible for youth members.”

Pathfinder Church confirmed that Gage was an active member of the church and in the 6th grade.

The North Point Conservation Area “has been utilized and maintained by Boy Scouts in Southwest Michigan for generations,” according to the park’s website.