Mt. Baldy Beach Reopens, Nearly 4 Years After Boy Swallowed By Dunes

CHICAGO (CBS) — The beach at Mt. Baldy in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is reopening nearly four years after a 6-year-old boy was literally swallowed by the giant dune.

Nathan Woessner was buried in the sand for three hours while first responders dug furiously. He came to on the way to the hospital, his lungs full of sand, and eventually recovered.

Researchers found that a void, created when an old tree decomposed, had opened in the shifting sand. This phenomenon is now known as “dune decomposition chimneys,” and they are basically sinkholes in dunes. Since Woessner’s incident, other dune decomposition chimneys have been found.

 

Michigan Police Chief Mark Swistek recalls that day, saying, “how unbelievable it was to think that he was under 11 ft. of sand for that long of a time.”

Then-Gov. Mike Pence paid tribute to the first responders several weeks later, saying, “I have come to say thanks to all who made the miracle on Mt. Baldy happen.”

While the beach at Mt. Baldy is reopening, the dune will remain closed because researchers said what happened to Woessner could happen again.

The dune may never reopen; one possible exception, however, might be limited tours with rangers.

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