A man trapped in a deep hole at Norton Point Beach Thursday was rescued with the help of highway department equipment after he became buried in the sand, officials said.

Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth said a man was apparently digging a hole between six and eight feet deep in the beach at Norton Point when the sand collapsed in around him.

“It was way beyond a hole that would be safe,” Chief Shemeth said. “You start digging the hole and it starts collapsing, things go wrong very, very, quickly, which happened. It started to cave back in and trapped him in the sand.”

A backhoe from the Edgartown highway department was used to dig a hole in which to place sand removed from around the man. — Courtesy Edgartown Police Department/Facebook

Mr. Shemeth said he did not get the man’s name because he was too busy dealing with the extrication. He said the man was using one small shovel to dig the hole and he had “no idea” why he was digging.

The man’s friends were able to clear the sand around his face and ran down the beach to get help from Trustees of Reservations personnel, Chief Shemeth said.

Trustees of Reservations Vineyard superintendent Chris Kennedy said that at about 3 p.m. Thursday, a young woman came running to the Trustees gatehouse to tell the two rangers on duty that a friend had been digging a hole in the sand that collapsed. The rangers responded and 911 was notified, he said. About 10 minutes later the first responders were on the scene, he said.

Edgartown fire and police responded, as did the Islandwide technical rescue team, the Edgartown highway department, and the Trustees.

“When we arrived he was breathing, but it’s the issue of removing all the sand away from him and trying to keep all the banks away,” Chief Shemeth said.

The highway department also responded, and used a backhoe to dig a hole nearby in which to place the sand removed from around the trapped person. A front-end loader was also on hand in the event it was needed.

Strap was used to help pull the man out of the hole. — Courtsy Edgartown Police Department/Facebook

Chief Shemeth said the extrication took about 20 minutes. Sand removed from around the trapped person was put in the hole dug by the backhoe. Once enough was cleared away, he said, they used shovels, and then hands when close to the body, to remove the sand. Once enough was cleared away, a strap was placed underneath the man’s arms for leverage, and he was removed along with the man’s help.

The man was transported to the hospital to be checked out, Chief Shemeth said. The man did not appear to be injured, but the chief said medical attention was important because of the amount of pressure on the body and chest and the possibility of sand in the airway.

Chief Shemeth praised the emergency response. “The outcome was what we hoped for,” he said.

He and Mr. Kennedy also cautioned that digging in the sand is a fun beach activity that can quickly turn dangerous.

“We urge people to be really, really, cautious when digging holes in the sand,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I have no idea what was going on there, thankfully it sounds like the young man was fine, and I think that we’re very fortunate to have the first responders that we do.”

“It’s something that happens too often that shouldn’t happen at all,” Chief Shemeth said. “There is a history of it happening. It seems like a lot of fun to do but . . . it’s a very, very serious situation to put yourself into. Once it starts to go wrong it goes wrong real fast.”