PO boy survives being buried alive
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:26 AM
"It's been a rough week for 8-year-old Joel Moore. On Monday a bee stung him near his right eye, raising an ugly, red welt.Tuesday night he was buried alive in a mound of dirt. And Wednesday he had to face the media. Moore, who lives with his family in Port Orchard on Flower Avenue, was the center of attention earlier this week after he was rescued from what was very close to becoming a tragedy. While playing with other children at a nearby construction site at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Joel was buried for 10 to 15 minutes before frantic efforts to find him succeeded. While recounting the story for yet another reporter, Joel said he was digging a shelter when the accident happened. Then it felt like someone had jumped on him, he said. What had actually happened, according to Kitsap County Fire District 7 Lt. George Roller, was that a 20-foot section of a seven-foot-high, 150-foot-long embankment of loose, sandy dirt suddenly gave way.It was as if two huge dump trucks of dirt were dumped on top of Joel, Roller said. Joel's mother, Elizabeth, said she was cooking dinner downstairs in her house when her oldest daughter, Alyssa, came up to her. She said something about a dirt pile collapsing, and that's all I needed to hear, Elizabeth said. We knew they were playing down there, but we didn't know it would collapse.She and her husband, Tye, raced outside to help in the frantic search to find Joel, at first using just their hands to shovel dirt. Chris Castillo, a 17-year-old neighbor who witnessed the accident, was credited with pointing out the approximate area where Joel disappeared. As Elizabeth ran inside to call 911, more people continued the search, including Joel's brother and four sisters, Castillo's father, Dan, and Port Orchard reserve police officer Aaron Davis. Again assuming the role of hero, Chris Castillo finally located Joel while using a shovel.At that point, I wasn't sure if we were going to pull him out alive or dead, Elizabeth said. Rescuers said Joel was barely breathing when found in a crouched position, hands over his face. A pocket of air had apparently aided his survival. Joel's mother said her son took a gasp of air when he was uncovered. As soon as he took that gasp of air, he started to breathe, she said. It was several more minutes before the boy could be freed, after which he was rushed to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Seattle, where he was released later that evening after being treated for his only visible injury - a bloody nose. His mother said hospital officials determined her son had suffered a seizure either as a result of the dirt falling on him or a lack of oxygen. Dan Castillo called the rescue a miracle.In all my years of experience working in and around trenches and being trained in trench rescue, I truly felt we were going to be doing a body recovery, he said.Joel said he remembers it being pitch black in the hole. In his groggy state, he also was worried people were trying to put him back in rather than take him out, he said. When I woke up, I thought I was still in the dirt pile, but when I heard people talking I knew I was safe, he said. But as Joel soon found out, his ordeal was not quite over - the media caught wind of the story and sent newspaper and television reporters to his house to interview him. Among the downsides of being famous, he discovered, was that he had to stand sweating in the hot sun while pointing out the dirt pile and talking about what had happened. Even his mother was taken aback my the media onslaught.I'm still in amazement, she said. I can't believe it's attracting this much media attention.As for Joel and the dirt pile, his friends and family can rest easy. I'm not going to go down there again, Joel said. I was scared. "