A woman lying on the beach in Oceanside in San Diego's North County was killed Monday when a piece of heavy machinery ran over her, police confirmed.
Emergency crews were called to 1202 N. Pacific St. just after 10 a.m., an area near South Oceanside Harbor.
Oceanside Police Department Lt. Tom Bussey told NBC 7 the woman was alone, sleeping on the beach when a Caterpillar Tractor plowed into her.
She died at the scene.
A local surfer told NBC 7 he saw the woman before he went in the water and she seemed "very fragile" so he asked lifeguards to check on the woman.
"She was leaning up against a wall ready to pass out and there was a gentleman that asked if she was OK and she seemed to say, 'I'm OK,'" Jay Burneo said. "When I came back out of the water I saw her laying here crumbled up and that's when a police officer told me [what happened]."
Bussey said there was heavy machinery on the beach because crews were in the process of wrapping up a routine dredging project at Oceanside Harbor. Dredging takes place there every couple of years, Bussey said.
“It’s a very tragic accident,” Bussey said.
Bussey said crews were in the process of using tractors to move dredge pipes to an equipment area so the pipes could eventually be hauled away.
"Something happened. A fluke thing, I don't know," Burneo said. "I'm sure her family is devastated over this and the driver, probably, who caused this."
He said the driver of the tractor was traveling north, backing up into a safety zone when he ran over the woman. The driver didn’t see her and was understandably shaken following the accident, Bussey added.
The woman has not yet been identified but police believe she was in her 40s or 50s. She had been lying on the sand for more than an hour prior to the incident. Bussey said she was fully clothed, not in a bathing suit.
He said passersby had spotted the woman lying on the beach at around 9 a.m. and had approached her to see if she was breathing. Witnesses told police she seemed to be fine.
Bussey said the woman did not have any identification on her. Investigators believe she may have been a transient, but that part remains under investigation.
According to the lieutenant, depending on how deeply the victim was sleeping, she may not have even heard the tractor approaching.
Bussey said he’s never seen an industrial incident like this happen in Oceanside.
The stretch of shoreline was roped off for many hours as authorities launched an investigation into the deadly accident. An Oceanside Police Department SUV could be seen parked in the sand near a yellow tractor.
The OPD said the tractor was operated by Manson Dredge Co. NBC 7 is gathering more details on the company that owns the tractor and how the incident unfolded.
Officials told NBC 7 the tractor weighs about 23,000 kilograms, which is more than 50,000 pounds.
The OPD said there is no indication that drugs or alcohol contributed to this accident.