Three people were killed and two injured when a cliff collapsed on top of them at a beach in Encinitas, California, on Friday.
The incident occurred at Grandview Beach when the cliff, located just yards away from a lifeguard tower, gave way and crushed the victims underneath the rubble.
Lifeguards and first responders ran to the scene and began digging through the rubble to free the individuals, the Daily Mail reported. An additional victim was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries.
“This is a naturally eroding coastline,” said Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles. “There’s really no rhyme or reason, but that’s what it does naturally. …. This is what it does, and this is how are beaches are actually partially made. It actually has these failures.”
The beaches in Encinitas are narrow strips of sand; therefore, cliffside collapses are not unusual because the ocean rises up to the cliffs and erodes the sandstone over time. Many of the beaches in the area are marked with signs warning of the danger of unforeseen slides.
Grandview Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike and was full of people at the time the tragedy occurred on Friday afternoon.
Officials brought in cadaver dogs to make sure there were no other victims underneath the debris, and a skip loader was used to remove the remaining rock.
“It’s sandstone that sits on other soils, and then sandstone again,” said Brian Ketterer, an official with California State Parks. He added that lifeguards try to keep beachgoers 25 to 40 feet away from the cliffside to avoid any danger.
However, this is not the first time such a tragedy has occurred. In January of 2000, 30-year-old Encinitas resident Rebecca Kowalczyk died near the same area when a 110-yard-wide piece of the bluff fell on top of her, reports said.