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1 Child Dead, 1 Unaccounted, 2 Hospitalized After Gravel Slide in St. Paul

Posted at: 05/22/2013 3:02 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 8:12 PM

KSTP
KSTP

(ABC 6 News) -- Rescuers used their hands and shovels to dig for four children lost in a gravel slide Wednesday at Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul near the Mississippi River, authorities said.

One child has died. One child remains unaccounted for. Two additional children remain hospitalized, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steven Zaccard.

The incident happened at about 1:16 p.m. when the group of children became trapped because of a "gravel slide" at Lilydale park, Zaccard said.

The children are fourth-graders from Peter Hobart Elementary School in the St. Louis Park Public Schools district, said Sara Thompson, district spokeswoman, in a statement. They were on a field trip in the area looking for fossils.

"We believe there have been serious injuries," Thompson said earlier in the day.

Parents were reunited with their children at 4:07 p.m. Wednesday at the elementary, according to KSTP reporter Todd Wilson. Administrators lined the children's path into school. The kids walked inside with their coats over their head.

Parents involved declined to talk about the incident.

The children fell in a hole and the earth came on top of them because the rain made the ground soft, Zaccard said. It's unclear how far down the children fell.

It took more than an hour to rescue the children. Rescuers were waist-deep in the hole trying to retrieve the children. One victim was removed by helicopter.

Three children were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. While digging out one of the children, rescuers uncovered the hand of another child, who later died, Zaccard said.

Rescue efforts to recover a fourth child have been difficult because water is flowing into the hole, Zaccard said, making it extremely dangerous for rescuers.

"We still need to find that child," he said.

Other agencies across the metro are helping with the rescue efforts at the scene, which are about a quarter mile away from the roadway, Zaccard said.

Minneapolis Fire Department has sent two rigs and support staff to the park, said firefighter Todd Steinhilber. All members of the rescue squad are from Minnesota Task Force One, which includes rescuers from Edina and Bloomington.

Two firefighters were injured at Lilydale Park. A firefighter was injured when a rock hit him in the head, Zaccard said. Another firefighter suffered a back injury. Both firefighters are recovering at home.