HALF MOON BAY -- Friends and family devastated by the tragic beach death this week of Adam Jay Pye continued to mourn Wednesday, remembering the San Lorenzo resident as a "remarkable" young man with a big heart.

Pye, 26, died Monday evening at Francis Beach in Half Moon Bay after a sand tunnel he was digging collapsed and buried him under 4 feet of sand for more than 30 minutes.

Pye, the oldest sibling of three children, had recently graduated Cal State East Bay with a bachelor's degree in communications and was planning to move to Southern California to start his career after working for UPS at Oakland International Airport for several years, family said.

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"He was just a remarkable person. Always smiling," his father Kevin Pye, 55, said Wednesday. He is survived by his mother Debra Pye, sister Felicia Pye and brother Brian Pye, all from San Lorenzo.

Adam Jay Pye was trapped beneath the sand just before 5:30 p.m. after hours of digging holes nearly twice as deep as he was tall, Cal Fire Capt. Jonathan Cox said. Pye was uncovered within 35 minutes by a crew of more than 30 county firefighters and dozens of beachgoers who joined in to help, but was pronounced dead at the beach, part of Half Moon Bay State Beach. The cause of death was "suffocation; sand hole entrapment."


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The man had been spending time with family and friends at a spot near an RV park, where he and another young woman dug two large, diagonal holes about 10 feet deep, then tried to connect them to make a tunnel, Cox said. While officials could not say what caused the tunnel to collapse, Cox said the tide was about 6 to 10 feet away and that no water infiltrated the hole.

Friends and family this week created an online fundraising page and a Facebook memorial page in his memory and to help his family pay for funeral arrangements.

"There will never be another person who can light up the room with a smile or laugh like he did," one of his friends, Katie Kilian, wrote on the memorial page.

"To Adam's family and friends, so sorry for your loss," Jake Storm wrote. "May you be blessed and comforted in your time of need."

For information about donating to the family, visit www.youcaring.com, click search fundraisers and type Adam Jay Pye in the subject line.

Erin Ivie contributed to this report. Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.