Collapsed bluff in Encinitas
The collapsed bluff in Encinitas. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Three beachgoers were killed Friday and two injured when a multi-ton section of sea bluff collapsed onto them on a stretch of shoreline near Batiquitos Lagoon.

The cliff failure took place shortly before 3 p.m. at Grandview Surf Beach in the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas, just north of a lifeguard station that was staffed at the time, according to officials in the northern San Diego County city.

Emergency personnel pulled five people out of the resulting mound of rock and soil, Encinitas Fire Department Chief Mike Stein told reporters.

A woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three other victims were taken to hospitals, two in critical condition and one with minor trauma, Stein said.

The Encinitas officials reported at 9 p.m. that two of the patients taken to hospitals had died.

One other victim was treated at the scene for superficial injuries.

All the victims were adults, sheriff’s Lt. Amber Baggs said.

Authorities brought in a service dog team to search for anyone else who might have wound up buried under the approximately 25- by 30-foot earthen pile, which was about 10 feet tall at its highest point, Stein said.

The collapse was believed to have sent 15 to 20 cubic yards of material onto the beach, Stein added.

One cubic yard of dirt can vary in weight from roughly 2,000 to 2,700 pounds, according to the online encyclopedia Reference.com.

As a public safety precaution, the city closed the shoreline from Ponto Beach on the north to several hundred yards south of the accident site near the foot of Grandview Street.

“We do have concerns,” lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles told reporters. “There is an area in there (where the cliff remains) unstable.”

As a precaution, beach visitors were urged to avoid areas near or under bluffs and keep a safe distance of 25 to 40 feet away, Giles said.

Updated at 2:50 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.