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UPDATE: TMC student dies during beach outing

Sides of sand pit caved in on student from South Korea

Posted: August 23, 2012 10:07 a.m.
Updated: August 23, 2012 5:46 p.m.
Mingyu “Paul” Sang Mingyu “Paul” Sang
Mingyu “Paul” Sang

A 19-year-old Master’s College freshman who died Wednesday when the sides of a large sand pit caved in on him at an Oxnard beach was warned by college friends not to get inside the pit, a college spokesman said Thursday.

Mingyu “Paul” Sang, who began attending business courses at the Santa Clarita Valley college only five days earlier, was with his new college friends at Oxnard Beach Park when the incident occurred, said Mark Tatlock, executive vice president and provost of the small faith-based institution.

About 350 of the college’s new students gathered at the beach park Wednesday for a school-sponsered event called the “Beach Bash.”

“Paul had been warned of the dangers,” Tatlock said Thursday. “They encouraged him to get out of (the pit).
“But at the last minute he was taking a picture when it happened.”

An autopsy done Thursday revealed Sang died of “asphyxia with suffocation,” according to Craig L. Stevens, a senior deputy for the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The students who were closest to him when it happened — those thinking ‘I wish I could have done something’ — received grief counseling,” Tatlock said. “We have counselors working with them.”

College officials held a prayer service for students and faculty in the college gymnasium at 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

“He went by the name ‘Paul’ and everyone apparently knew him by that name. His host family lives here but his biological family is in Korea,” Stevens said, adding he and his staff will be making arrangements for the body with family members in South Korea.

At 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters with the Oxnard Fire Department received word of the incident at Oxnard Beach Park and they arrived on the scene four minutes later, said Rod Thorp, fire marshal and battalion chief of the Oxnard Fire Department.

“He and other students were spending the day at the beach and had dug a large pit in the sand that was reportedly at least 6 feet deep,” Thorp said.

“Bystanders reported that the victim was lying down in the bottom of the pit when it collapsed on him.”

In all, three engine companies, a truck company, rescue, battalion chief and urban search and rescue unit responded to the call.

“Firefighters worked quickly with hand tools to locate and free the buried victim,” Thorp said.

“The patient was extricated from the sand within 15 minutes and CPR was started immediately.”

Sang was rushed to Ventura County Medical Center with CPR in progress, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital despite efforts to revive him.

Sang, a permanent resident of the United States for the last five years, attended a Korean church in the Santa Clarita Valley, Tatlock said.

When news of his death reached church pastors, they rushed to his bedside at the hospital, Tatlock said.

“God was gracious,” Tatlock said. “The young pastor of his church was there when he died and was able to inform and comfort (Sang’s) parents who only speak Korean.”

The parents are apparently on their way from South Korea.

College officials are planning a memorial service with Sang’s parents and a local church that Sang attended.


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