Body of boy, 12, found buried on beach in O.C.


A 12-year-old Hagerstown boy was buried alive and suffocated in a tunnel that he apparently dug himself on the beach at Ocean City yesterday, police said.

Clinton Hoffman, who had been playing on the sand in front of the Golden Sands Club Condominium, was found under about 5 feet of sand late yesterday afternoon, the police department said in a statement issued last night.

"Apparently he was out there digging holes and tunnels," said Sgt. Robert Noll.

"It appeared one of these tunnels collapsed on him. He suffocated," Sergeant Noll said.

Witnesses who saw the boy playing in the sand told police that he was digging holes large enough for him to crawl into.

Two other boys nearby, whose names were not released, saw the sand fall in on top of Clinton, police said. They tried to dig him out, but the would-be rescuers didn't notify anyone about the accident for nearly an hour, police said.

The boy's mother reported him missing about 6 p.m., Sergeant Noll said, and the body was found "within minutes of the call."

The boy's body was recovered by members of the Ocean City Fire Department, who were called to the scene along with police officers, police said.

No one else appeared to have been involved in the collapse or the digging, police said.

A representative from the medical examiner's office also came to the scene and pronounced the boy dead.

The boy and his family were vacationing in Ocean City, police said. The boy had been digging in front of the Golden Sands at 109th Street and the beach when the accident occurred, police said.

Preliminary indications were that the child suffocated, although an autopsy probably will be performed in Baltimore, Sergeant Noll said.

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