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Person walking along Martin County beach finds man's body

Victim's feet sticking out of sand when discovery occurred, sheriff's office says
Beach on Hutchinson Island, Aug. 8, 2022
Posted at 12:44 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 18:29:14-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A person walking along Rock beach in Martin County on Sunday made a startling discovery.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office said a man's body was discovered buried in the sand just south of the House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island.

The person who was strolling on the beach found the man's feet sticking out from the sand when they made the discovery, investigators said.

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

Law enforcement believes the man, identified as Sean Nagel, 35, might have become buried in the sand when a dune collapsed, but the circumstances are still under investigation.

"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," Sheriff William Snyder said. "It revealed some sand in his lungs."

The sheriff said Nagel was the type of guy to get up early in the morning and come down to the beach, set up his GoPro camera, sit back and watch the sunrise.

At the time of his death, Snyder said it was about 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.

He said Nagle had his legs up and was leaning back on some sand when it collapsed.

"Somehow while he was there, inexplicably, we don't know why, that beach erosion, mountain of sand, collapsed on him," Snyder said. "Obviously, he was unable to get out, and he expired. The cause of death is asphyxiation."

Snyder said Nagle was found roughly three hours later by the walker on the beach.

In all his years of law enforcement, Snyder said he's never seen anything like this. He said there was no sign of foul play.