It's been one month since the six-year-old boy fell into a hole and was buried under 11 feet of sand on Mt. Baldy. Since then, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore closed their biggest dune and are trying to figure out why the accident happened.
Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency joined in the investigation. "What we're looking for is anything abnormal. A tree, a pipeline, who knows," says spokesman Francisco Arcaute.
He says they have no idea why 6-year-old Nathan Woessner was buried at the most popular dune at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. "We're here as long as the National Park Service needs us."
There's a white pole marking where the accident happened and Monday crews began an investigation using ground sensing equipment. "If there's anything abnormal or unique or different, we will continue to observe the data," says Arcaute.
Using the ground penetration radar unit, Arcaute says they will be able to retrieve 3-D images from 30 feet under ground. "It's a $30,000 unit that essentially, think of it like an ultrasound, but focusing down under ground."
It's typically used to find buried pipelines or hazardous waste and used along with the specialized GPS unit, the investigators will be able to map out the entire 42 acre dune. And Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore spokesperson, Bruce Rowe says the investigation may not stop there. "Because Mount Baldy is the fastest moving dune, we know there's trees under it, this is the only spot that's closed, the only spot we're investigating. If we learn that other spots are potentially dangerous, then we'll look at those as well."
Rowe says he has no idea how long the dune will be closed. "Our number one goal out here is to make sure the visitor is safe and we're not going to reopen Mount Baldy until we understand the science of what's going on underneath."
And right now, that's their focus, to learn more about this uncommon phenomenon. "We've found nothing like this, it's really new developing science," says Rowe.
As far as the cost of this research project, the EPA is providing the staff and equipment at no direct cost to the park.
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