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Florida man watching beach sunrise killed after sand dune collapses on him

Sand dunes in Guana Tolomato Matanzas in Florida. Getty Images/File

In what police are calling a “tragic accident,” a 35-year-old Florida man is dead after a sand dune collapsed on him while he was recording video of a sunrise from a beach on the Atlantic Coast.

According to the Martin County Sherriff’s Office, the man, believed to be Sean Nagel, was killed on Hutchinson Island on Sunday.

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Sean Nagel, who was killed when a sand dune collapsed on him in Florida on Aug. 7, 2022, poses for a fun photo with a fish. Facebook/Will Nagel

An early-morning beachgoer spotted a portion of the victim’s body protruding from where he was buried in the sand, police said in a statement.

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Nagel had been dead for several hours by the time he was found. The Martin County Sherriff’s Office said he likely died from asphyxia as a result of being trapped underneath the sand.

Fire rescue later arrived at the scene and removed the body.

“Somehow, while he was there, inexplicably, we don’t know why, that beach erosion mountain of sand collapsed on him,” Sheriff William Snyder told local news station WPTV.

“It was an unusual scene with his feet sticking out of the sand and then of course we had to dig down and find the body,” Snyder said. “It revealed some sand in his lungs.”

Snyder told WPTV police believe the man was likely leaning back on the sand dune with his legs up when it collapsed.

The sheriff told the news outlet he had “never seen anything like this” in his law enforcement career.

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On social media, Nagel’s brother, Will Nagel, confirmed the death. He said he is “grief-stricken and still in disbelief” over his brother’s death.

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Police do not suspect foul play.

Investigators are now awaiting toxicology tests from the victim’s body, but the tests are not likely to change the incident’s status as an accident, authorities claim.

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