MCSO: Stuart man found dead on beach likely trapped underneath collapsed sand dune

·2 min read

MARTIN COUNTY — A man died after sand collapsed over him from a dune on a  Hutchinson Island beach Monday, according to the Martin County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators identified 37-year-old Sean Alexander Nagel, of Stuart, as the man who died.

A woman surveying the beach for turtle nesting sites found Nagel dead after seeing a part of his body protruding from the sand, investigators said.

A Stuart man died after sand collapsed over him in a dune on a Hutchinson Island beach south of House of Refuge Aug. 8, 2022, according to the Martin County Sheriff's Office. A woman surveying the beach for turtle nesting sites found Sean Alexander Nagel, 37, dead after seeing a part of his body protruding from the sand.
A Stuart man died after sand collapsed over him in a dune on a Hutchinson Island beach south of House of Refuge Aug. 8, 2022, according to the Martin County Sheriff's Office. A woman surveying the beach for turtle nesting sites found Sean Alexander Nagel, 37, dead after seeing a part of his body protruding from the sand.

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Emergency responders arrived on the beach just south of the House of Refuge around 9 a.m., according to a Sheriff's Office report.

A paramedic was unable to resuscitate Nagel.

"It appears that the man died hours earlier from asphyxia as a result of being trapped underneath the sand," a sheriff's news release said.

A GoPro camera and plastic bag was found with Nagel, according to investigators.

They said they believe Nagel was resting underneath a sand dune while taking video of a sunrise. They don't suspect a crime occurred.

Investigators are awaiting toxicology tests, which is standard procedure, but the results "are not likely to change the outcome of this incident being a tragic accident," sheriff's investigators said in the news release.

No other information from the Sheriff's Office was available Tuesday.

Indian Riverkeeper Jim Moir said sand on unnatural dunes, which are formed around much of Martin County beaches as a result of renourishment, are often unstable.

The riverkeeper works to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon, its tributaries, fisheries and habitats through advocacy, enforcement and citizen action.

He said the dune that collapsed may have been artificially formed.

"This might be more expected on an unnatural or a manmade dune," Moir said of the sand dune collapse.

"This is sand or dune that's been deposited by earth movers, rather than nature," Moir said. "It may not have settled naturally over time. It may have just been deposited and not compacted."

Martin County officials have not identified the exact spot Nagel died or how the dune was formed.

Mauricio La Plante is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm focusing on Martin County. Follow him on Twitter @mslaplantenews or email him at Mauricio.LaPlante@tcpalm.com.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Man found dead on beach likely died in sand dune collapse, MCSO says