radar has located scores of “anomalies” in the Mt. Baldy sand dune at
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where a 6-year-old Illinois boy was buried
alive last summer after falling into an 11-foot deep hole.
Environmental Protection Agency, which conducted the radar survey, submitted
its final report to the National Park Service (NPS) last month, NPS
spokesman Bruce Rowe told the Chesterton Tribune today. NPS has since
forwarded the report to the National Park Service’s Geological Resources
Division in Fort Collins, Colo., for its review.
The results of the
survey: there are at least 66 anomalies in Mt. Baldy’s moving dune, six of
which have been identified as metal objects. But it’s impossible to say what
exactly the rest of them are, Rowe said. They could be tree stumps or they
could be cavities--left by the remnants of a decomposed tree--or they could
be something else.
“Any moving dune
will have stuff beneath it that’s been covered up,” Rowe noted. “This survey
shows there’s a lot under there but at this point we don’t know what the
anomalies are. That’s the bottom line.”
The metal objects,
Rowe speculated, could be “old pop cans from years ago or even pieces of a
fence line. We do know that at some point in the past there was a barbed
wire fence on Mt. Baldy. When it was put there, we don’t know.”
By the end of the
month, Rowe said, the Geological Resources Division should have completed
its analysis of the EPA report and made recommendations, which could include
further testing with different equipment.
Mt. Baldy has been
closed since June 12, when Sterling, Ill., resident Nathan Woessner, 6, fell
into a hole in the dune. Initial efforts to rescue him caused sand to
collapse into the hole, burying him. Nathan was trapped for more than three
hours but was able to survive in an air pocket until he was rescued.
At the time, Rowe
said that no records have been found of similar incidents either in the
National Lakeshore or at any other location. The hole in which Nathan was
trapped, however, is believed to have been naturally occurring and may be an
artifact of the well documented southward drift of the Mt. Baldy dune.
Indiana University Northwest have found that the annual sand accretion rate
at Mt. Baldy varies from three meters to as many as six meters. That drift
may have uncovered a cavity in the dune created by the decomposition of an
In August EPA
investigators found a second hole, similar to the one in which Nathan was