"Ryan is a very loved kid, a young man who's 17, so musically inclined and artistic and every kid, just, we love him," church youth leader Cam Jones said.
"It obviously humbles you and you realize how fragile life can be," church leader Greg Armstrong said.
Buchanan was on a church outing for teens on Saturday at Sunset Beach, south of Santa Cruz. He and another 17-year-old friend, Kevin Wilcox, dug in the sand on opposite ends until their tunnels met six feet below the surface. That is when it collapsed on them.
"There was actually another boy that was right there on the scene so he saw the tunnel collapse and everyone was there within 20 seconds," Jones said.
About 50 teens and eight adult church members began digging and praying. Two lifeguards and some firefighters joined in until they pulled Kevin out five minutes later. But it took 15 minutes of frantic digging to get Ryan out. At first he wasn't breathing.
"Nothing short of a miracle; h was buried for 15 minutes, you know, it took them almost 10 minutes for them to find a pulse," Jones said.
Church members are hopeful. Monday night they were hearing Ryan's vital signs were stable and his first brain scan wa good. But the next 24 to 48 hours will be crucial.