World of Sport

Olympic swimmer buries himself alive

World of Sport

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An Austrian swimmer came close to a bizarre death when he was
saved by local heroes after accidentally burying himself alive at a beach in
Florida.

Nineteen-year-old Jakub Maly was in Pompano Beach with the
Austrian Olympic swimming team, who were enjoying a fun-filled Sunday off after
three gruelling weeks of winter training at the resort 30 miles north of Miami.

Maly - for reasons which are not yet clear - decided to dig
a large hole on the beach using a bucket, eventually making a crater 7ft deep and
6ft across.

With his work finished he decided to jump in playfully, but
the vibrations caused the sides of the hole to collapse around him.

At first Maly was buried only up to his hips, to the amusement
of the swimmer and his team-mates.

But their laughter turned to horrified panic as more sand
fell in on him, and he was quickly buried up to his neck - with sand covering
his entire head at one stage according to the Florida Sun Sentinel.

The swimmer's team-mates frantically tried to dig him out,
and managed to get his head clear to help him breathe.

But their efforts also caused more sand to start collapsing
in on the hole, and the Pompano Beach Fire and Rescue service were called to
the scene to help.

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Picture: Lt. Darin D. Dowe/Broward Sheriff's Office
After a two-hour operation involving 60 people, a mechanical
digger and dozens of wooden boards which were used to shore up the sides, Maly was pulled from the hole which could very well have become his
grave.

"It was like a crater. He was just digging in the sand,
and was quite good at it," explained Sandra King of the fire and rescue
service.

"When we got the call we had no idea this person was
buried up to his chin. He'd jumped into the hole and the walls around him
collapsed, so there was a great deal of weight on his body.

"The fear was the walls would collapse again. We have
very heavy, coarse sand in south-east Florida - it was a dangerous situation."

One of the athlete's coaches had stayed with him throughout,
talking to him and keeping him conscious as tonnes of sand crushed him.

Maly was taken to hospital where doctors feared for his
kidneys and legs, but he was well enough to fly home on Monday and is expected
to make a full recovery.

"He was in shock and they kept him in hospital
overnight but, fortunately, he does not have any serious injuries and he was
released this morning (Monday)," said Julia Wiltschko of the Austrian
Swimming Federation.

Pictures: Imago, Lt. Darin D. Dowe/Broward Sheriff's Office

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