ENCINITAS (CBSLA) — A popular surfing spot turned into a horrific scene at Grandview Surf Beach in Encinitas late Friday afternoon.
The City of Encinitas reports three people were killed after an approximately 30-foot-long slab of Torrey Sandstone collapsed and stretched 25 feet from the cliff toward the ocean. Authorities say one woman was killed instantly. Two others who were taken to the hospital later died. Another person refused medical treatment at the scene.
Lifeguards stopped their search as night fell and the tide rose Friday evening but said they do not believe there are additional victims.
Earlier in the day, beach chairs, towels, surf boards and beach toys could be seen scattered on the sand – alongside tons of limestone that came crashing down from the bluff above.
Marine Safety Captain Larry Giles says it’s amazing anyone survived given how heavy the bluff was.
“According to the soil engineer, it was an extremely heavy amount of weight. Tens of thousands of pounds in some of these 5 to 10-foot sections,” Giles said.
Lifeguards say bluff collapses happen naturally at a frequency of 4-8 times a year along the eroding San Diego coastline.
And while a soil engineer says none of the nearby homes were in any danger, there was fear of a secondary collapse.
To make sure no one is trapped underneath the rubble, rescuers searched into the night as long as the tide allowed them.
“The fire rescue crews from multiple agencies came in, dog teams, and they basically combed that area; and from what they could see at this particular time, they can’t indicate anything underneath the debris,” Giles said. “The tide is coming in and for safety reasons we had to pull out.”
As a public safety precaution, a large portion of the beach was closed by the City of Encinitas.