The area where a section of cliff collapsed at Torrey Pines State Beach on Saturday has a history of cliff collapses, falling rocks and tragedy.
“These cliffs are constantly flaking off,” Lifeguard Supervisor Jeff Bruck said. “The reason this one is so scary is because of the proximity to people. We have a major trail coming out of the park right behind me and it's within 50 yards.”
A 30-foot section of the cliff tumbled to the beach below Saturday in an area known as “Bathtub Rock”, which is just north of Torrey Pines golf course.
“That's normally where we come and set everything, almost where the last of the rocks fell, so it's kind of an eye opener not to get too close,” beachgoer Glynn Smith said.
Lifeguards do not believe anyone was underneath the cliff when it collapsed, but Aura, a cadaver-sniffing dog, was brought in just as a precaution. Luckily, she found nothing, so lifeguards are cautiously optimistic.
“We're going to be watching the area because the tide is coming up, and as the tide comes up some debris will be washed away and we'll be watching that to see if anything shows up,” Bruck said.
One small section of the beach is closed. This is the same stretch of beach where a Las Vegas tourist was killed by a bluff collapse this time last year on August 20, 2008.
San Diego fire officials say the victim was playing frisbee with family members. He walked over to the base of a cliff to take off his shoes and that's when a section of the cliff gave way, crumbling on top of him. The victim suffered severe head trauma from the falling rocks.
“If you would actually see a cliff fall I think more people would heed them because they're pretty dramatic and it doesn't have to be a massive fall like this for you to be injured,” Bruck said.
About 75-feet of cliff at “Bathtub Rock” also came tumbling down July 22, 2008. Crews used thermal imaging and shovels to figure out if anyone had been buried beneath the rubble. No one was hurt in that collapse.
“We've hiked these trails before and I've never even thought of the possibility of rocks falling, let alone on people,” beachgoer Nathan Stern said.