A Marine Corps helicopter landed in the sand at Los Penasquitos Lagoon near Torrey Pines State Beach on Monday afternoon.
The aircraft made a low approach over vehicles in the adjoining parking lot in order to land safely, a witness told NBC 7.
Witness Stacy Wadman, who shared video she shot with NBC 7, said she was out for her daily afternoon walk on the beach and was walking back to her car in the north lot when she noticed the helicopter.
Wadman said she regularly sees choppers flying up and down the coast, but this one caught her eye as it was traveling north along the beach and dropping in altitude. She said she was unsure if the Marines were doing a training exercise but figured they weren’t, since the beach was crowded and there were a lot of vehicles in the area.
Once Wadman saw it make a turn over the bridge, though, she thought it might slam into the bridge but was relieved to see it land safely in the estuary instead.
After the aircraft landed, Wadman said, the crew got out and examined the helicopter, then eventually powered it down and sat inside until employees from the state beach arrived.
Shortly before 4:30, military officials said that, about an hour earlier, a UH-1 Yankee helicopter the from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton performed an emergency landing.
Authorities said they're still trying to find out what forced the landing and that they would be removing the chopper from the area as quickly as possible.