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Teen rescued after sand tunnel collapses on Florida beach

Posted at 5:05 AM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 12:40:21-04

(WJHG/NBC) - A teenager visiting a Florida Panhandle beach from Oklahoma is in critical condition after a sand tunnel that he dug collapsed on him Wednesday afternoon.

A crowd gathered as witnesses and emergency personnel dug the teen out around 3 p.m. in Panama City. 

First responders rushed him to the hospital where officials said he is improving.

Witnesses told first responders they'd seen the teen with another person, so they continued digging in search of the other person.

The crews first used shovels then borrowed a backhoe from a nearby construction site.

After almost an hour of digging, sheriff's deputies found the missing person -- but not in the sand.  He was safe at a nearby hotel with family.

For onlookers enjoying the beach, it was a tense and disturbing afternoon.

"It was really stressful because they were all trying to save him, and we really didn't know how it was going to end up," said one witness.

Officials have not yet identified the boy or the person who was with him.

Courtesy WJHG via NBC News Channel