The parents of a seven-year-old girl who died after being buried by sand on a Florida beach have set up a national campaign to help prevent similar tragedies happening in future.

Sloan Mattingly had been helping to dig a hole with her brother Maddox, nine, when it collapsed on Tuesday 20 February.

Beachgoers at the scene in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea rushed to pull out the pair, but Sloan died after being taken to hospital.

She had reportedly been buried in the 1.8m (5ft 11in) deep pit for around 20 minutes. Her brother was also taken to hospital but was left in a stable condition.

Sloan’s mother Therese and father Jason have now set up a campaign encouraging families to build sandcastles when on the beach instead of digging potentially dangerous holes.

Mrs Mattingly said in a Facebook post raising awareness of the campaign: “Sloan’s legacy is of her heart and spirit, but is also a little bit this. Please stay safe and do NOT hesitate to speak up!”

The “Sandcastles For Sloan” campaign provides beachgoers with tips and advice to help prevent adults or children from becoming buried under sand.

It warns that “sand holes can collapse quickly” and advises people to “avoid digging deeper than knee height of the shortest person in your group”.

Pic: Sandcastles For Sloan

Beachgoers are also advised to fill in holes after they are “done playing” to help keep other people safe.

Families are also urged to not let children put sand in their mouths.

A message with the campaign reads: “Sloan was a light in the world, a sweet little girl who loved dogs and the colour red.

“To honour Sloan’s memory, share this message with your beach community.”

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From February: Girl killed in sand collapse on Florida beach

The Mattingly family, from Fort Wayne in Indiana, were on holiday when the tragedy happened.

Mrs Mattingly described her daughter’s death as a “freak accident” in a tribute shared on a GoFundMe page for the family in February.

She added: “It took away our greatest 7.5 years. Don’t tell us you’re sorry for our loss… don’t do that to us. We experienced the purest human being and we are forever changed by her.

“We love you beyond any stretch of the imagination. Our sweet Sloan. What we would give.”

Sloan and Maddox Mattingly
The Mattingly family. Pic: Facebook

The page raised more than $162,000 (£127,000) to help the family cover funeral costs and provide them with financial assistance due their period of grief.

Sloan’s uncle Chris Sloan, with the girl’s first name having been her mother’s maiden name, told KFOR-TV in February: “They were having a good time. Everybody was really excited to actually see them out there.”

He added: “Later we found out that after the sand had caved, [Sloan] kept trying to grab up Maddox’s leg to get up out of the sand, and eventually he couldn’t feel her moving anymore.

“The sand had been up to [Maddox’s] chest, and he was screaming for help, and a lot of people did come and help.”