Galveston County Sheriff’s detectives completed their investigation into the February 9th death of 3-year-old LaShaun Huff, learning more about events that led to a large piece of driftwood rolling from a sand dune and pinning the youth.
Huff and family members were walking along a stretch of beach near Monkhouse Road in Crystal Beach when a 39-foot-long log rolled from a dune onto Huff, his grandfather Robert Marsh, and another family member, Heather Davis. Huff was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two Sheriff’s detectives were dispatched to the scene that day and started their probe.
Over several days, investigators examined the scene where Huff was killed and conducted some 21 interviews with passers-by at the scene, responding officers, paramedics, and Huff’s family, along with personnel from the County’s Road Department responsible for maintaining beaches in the area.
Deputies examining the scene noticed the sand in the area of the log was soft and unstable. They indicated the sand was unable to support the weight of someone walking by without shifting.
An interview with Marsh revealed there was a possibility that one of them may even have touched the log as they went by, walking on the beach and dune. Deputies noticed foot impressions in the soft sand around and seaward of where the log was laying in the sand dune, which tended to support Marsh’s statement.
Detectives also conducted interviews seeking to determine how the log may have come to rest on the dune. Its presence was rather unremarkable to two local residents, passers-by at the scene, both noting driftwood along the beach and in the dunes was not unusual, even pieces as large as the one that tragically rolled onto Huff.
County crews responsible for beach cleaning didn’t specifically recall this particular piece of driftwood, indicating the log may have been in place for perhaps three months or more. They also commented to detectives about how common this sort of driftwood was, and it was their practice to push such driftwood onto the fragile dunes in an effort to help provide additional support for the dunes.
Investigators credited Deputy James Herndon and Angel Davis, another of Huff’s aunts and Heather Davis’ sister, with keeping the already horrific event from becoming worse. Herndon rushed to Heather Davis’ aid on arriving at the scene, clearing sand away so she could breathe as she lay beneath the log that struck Huff until more assistance arrived to move the log away. Angel Davis, walking with the group that included her sister, Marsh, and Huff, grabbed Huff’s younger sibling when she saw the log rolling toward them, whisking him safely away and preventing further tragedy.
Detectives closed their investigation, noting they were unable to determine if the driftwood had been pushed there by beach cleaning crews. Additionally, they could not rule out the strong possibility of the log being deposited by tidal action.