Monday morning department officials from the National Park Service congregated to discuss possible explanations for the hole that opened up on July 12, trapping a six-year old boy.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Mount Baldy will be closed indefinitely as no definitive conclusion was reached.
Based on evidence gathered at the scene, park officials are looking into one potential theory that the hole was created by a buried and decomposed tree.
Indiana Dunes spokesman, Bruce Rowe, described Mount Baldy as a “living dune.” Throughout the centuries the vegetation-less dune has moved south, away from the lakeshore. Winds shift the sands and often trees are buried beneath.
“The trunk decays but the sand is wet enough to hold the shape,” then with any shift the sand can collapse in. In this case, Rowe thinks the hole could have made its way to the surface. While no such occurrence has been recorded in the park, officials said they will bring in ground sensing equipment and geological experts to examine the dunes for other potential hazards.
Rowe said more safety protocol is being developed before park staff or researchers are allowed onto Mt. Baldy. The closure includes Mount Baldy, its parking lot, and the trails and beach area surrounding the dune. Officials note that signs are posted to warn visitors of the closure, anyone venturing into the restricted area will be subject to law enforcement.