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Paul Mingyu Sang, South Korean Exchange Student, Suffocates in Sand-Pit Collapse at College Beach Party

A 19-year-old foreign-exchange student at a small Christian college in Santa Clarita reportedly suffered a tragic death at a SoCal beach on Wednesday, when a hole he was digging in the sand collapsed around him.

South Korea native Mingyu Sang, whose American name was Paul, dug the hole while attending a daytime "beach bash" thrown by his school as part of "welcome week" (a common getting-to-know-you ritual for West Coast colleges).

The event took place at Mandalay Bay in Oxnard...

... a picturesque resort beach located an hour or so west of The Master's College campus, where Sang would have been a freshman this year.

He lists his hometown on Facebook as Seoul, Korea, and his current city of residence as the L.A. County college town of Valencia.


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Oxnard Fire Department officials told reporters that Sang was lying face-up at the bottom of the 6- to 8-foot hole around 4:50 p.m., taking photos or a video of his handiwork with his cellphone, when the sand crashed down around him.

Rescuers arrived to the scene within minutes, but not quickly enough to save him, reports the Ventura County Star:

Rescuers used hand tools, including 5-gallon buckets and shovels, to locate the man. It took about 15 minutes to extricate him. ... After the student was pulled from the hole, he was taken to the hospital in Ventura with CPR in progress, but the efforts failed to revive him, ­authorities said.

There were reportedly no life guards patrolling that particular beach. The students at Mandalay Bay were about one hour from returning to campus when the tragedy occurred.

Sang's Facebook profile shows that he's been living in the U.S. for a few years now: It lists him as a graduate of West Ranch High School in Valencia, and says he's been working at Wimage Inc., a tech company located in Los Angeles.

Here's the statement from Master's College on his death:

Students from The Master's College were participating in a recreational trip to the beach on Wednesday afternoon. At approximately 4:50 p.m., one of our students was involved in an accident. The student had been digging in the sand when he became trapped. The Ventura County fire department was called. The student was rescued and transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The college is focused at this time on caring for the student's immediate family, his local church family, and our student body. We have confidence through the student's testimony that his trust was in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and we take comfort in knowing that he is with the Lord. It is our prayer that our God will provide comfort to all those who are grieving at this time.

Oxnard Fire Department officials have taken this opportunity to warn beachgoers about the dangers of digging in the sand. "It's really something people need to know about," a spokesman told the Star.

The International Business Times asked in a story on the student's death yesterday, "Should Mingyu Sang Have Known Better?" Angry commenters answer with a resounding "No"; one writes, "Seriously, don't try to pin this on his host family... it was a tragic accident."

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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