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Man, 35, dies after sand dune collapsed on him while he was filming a sunrise, authorities say

A man's body was found by a beachgoer on Hutchinson Island off the coast of Florida after what a sheriff's office is calling "a tragic accident."
Florida, Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Ross Witham Beach, House Of Refuge Museum
A 35-year-old Florida man was found dead on a beach on Hutchinson Island south of the House of Refuge museum (above) after police say he was killed when a sand dune collapsed on him.Jeff Greenberg / Getty Images

A Florida man was killed when a sand dune collapsed on him while he was believed to be taking video of a sunrise on an island off the Atlantic coast, authorities said Monday.

A beachgoer discovered the man's feet sticking out of the sand during an early-morning walk on Hutchinson Island just south of the House of Refuge museum, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.

It appeared the man died a few hours earlier from asphyxia after being trapped underneath the sand while resting underneath a sand dune and shooting the sunrise, the Martin County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The man was identified as Sean Nagel, 35, of Stuart, Florida, according to WPTV.

Investigators ordered standard toxicology tests but said no foul play was evident and Nagel's death was most likely "a tragic accident," the sheriff's office said.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told WPTV that it most likely occurred at about 5 or 6 a.m., and that Nagel was known to set up his GoPro camera to record sunrises at the beach.

“Somehow while he was there, inexplicably, we don’t know why, that beach erosion, mountain of sand, collapsed on him,” Snyder told WPTV. “Obviously, he was unable to get out, and he expired."

His death comes nearly three months after a 13-year-old boy died in May in Utah's Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park when a sand dune collapsed on him while he was digging and covered him in more than 6 feet of sand.

That same month, an 18-year-old man died on a beach in New Jersey when a large hole he was digging with his sister collapsed and trapped him underneath the sand.