Photos show family moments before tragic NJ sand collapse killed teen


Exclusive photos show the family of a teenager who died in a freak sand hole collapse on the Jersey Shore having fun in the sun just moments before tragedy struck.

The last known images of the Caverly family appear to show Levi, 18, digging the deep pit with his 17-year-old sister as their parents,  Angela and Todd, watched at Toms River’s Ocean Beach 3, according to a beach-goer who snapped the shot.

“They were digging so frigging deep. We’ve had storms and everything was wet, so the sand was firm. It wasn’t hard to dig that deep. I’d say by 12:30 p.m., you couldn’t even see them, they were so deep,” the beach-goer told the Post.

The witness said she accidentally captured the family in the background of a photo she shot of her husband at around 12:50 p.m. Tuesday — just hours before the sand caved in on the teens, killing Levi and burying his sister up to her neck, according to police and witnesses.

The woman who took the shot said that she got a bad feeling about the teens digging, and considered warning the family of the danger.

Caverly Sand Pit Death family
A witness said Levi Caverly and his sister were digging a very deep hole before the sand collapsed.
Handout

“I said to my husband, ‘I’d better go over there,” she said.

The beach-goer, who asked not to be named, decided not to intervene — but later realized something was terribly wrong when she saw first responders arriving.

“At around 3:45 pm there were helicopters, fire engines. I came running over,” she said, adding: “These are the last family pictures, timestamped 12:49.”

The woman said she can’t get the tragedy out of her mind.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. I know better. I’m the kind of person who gets a premonition, and I knew something wasn’t right about this hole,” she said. “I was bothered by it, and in hindsight I should have walked over here and said, ‘You’ve got to watch it. Don’t dig.’ That’s why there’s a lot of guilt.”

Caverly family
The witness said she captured the family in the background of a photo she was taking of her husband.
Handout

Another witness told The Post Wednesday that she assumed someone had drowned when she saw the number of cops rushing towards the shoreline.

“We got to the beach and said, ‘Oh no, somebody drowned.’ And then I saw all the shovels and everybody was going crazy,”  Frankie Graziano, 52, who was walking dogs with her sister.

She watched the father of the teens’ “agonized” facial expression as dozens of first responders tried to dig out his kids from the hole, which fire officials said was 10-feet deep.

Levi Caverly
Levi Caverly was killed when the sand hole collapsed.
Facebook / Levi Caverly

“The hole was so deep that you could hardly see the men who were digging. The men were meticulously handing off buckets of sand in a row in a bucket brigade to get it away from the hole. I heard them say, ‘We’ve located him.’  He was obviously deceased because he’d been in there too long,” she said.

“I saw the dad, too. I saw his face. I could recognize the agony in it. My heart bleeds for him, because one day your life is whole and the next day it’s broken. And the guilt that goes along with it — I’m sure they’ll never be the same again,” she said.

The Caverly family, from Union, Maine, was on vacation when the freak accident unfolded, Toms River Police said.

New Jersey Sand Hole collapse.
Levi’s 17-year-old sister was trapped in the pit but was ultimately rescued and taken to the hospital.
Steve White for the New York Post

The siblings had spent hours digging the hole with frisbees before it collapsed, according to police and other sources. It took first responders more than 2 1/2 hours to dig out Levi and his sister, who was treated for injuries at the scene, according to police.



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