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Parents speak after 7-year-old Indiana girl dies from being trapped under sand

Sloan Mattingly's parents did an exclusive sit down with ABC News
Posted at 9:37 AM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 09:39:43-04

INDIANA — The parents of the 7-year-old Fort Wayne, Indiana girl that died after being trapped in sand in Florida in February are speaking for the first time publicly.

On Feb. 20, siblings Sloan Mattingly and Maddox Mattingly were playing in the sand in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea when the two became trapped.

9-year-old Maddox survived but Sloan succombed to injuries she sustained.

"We're the people that other parents or family members kind of roll their eyes at because we're a little overprotective most of the time and think of everything," Therese Mattingly told ABC News correspondent Erielle Reshef in an exclusive interview from the family's home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "When we go to the beach, we think of water safety. And this never, ever once crossed my mind."

Both parents told ABC News the incident happened fast and many on the beach worked to save the siblings.

"It's kind of a blur, and it's probably maybe in my mind protecting itself, but it just happened so fast," Jason Mattingly said. "And in my mind I had her in my hands, but the weight of the sand was too much."

"It didn't matter that we were literally right there," Therese Mattingly said. "It was just a hole. And there's nothing."

The family tells ABC they hope by speaking out about what happened to their daughter, they can help prevent another family from going through the same tragedy.

"I don't know what steps to take in order for that to happen -- for, you know, signage or lifeguards or patrol," Therese Mattingly said. "But hopefully we can make some sort of change from this."

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