Three family members killed in California sea cliff collapse


Three women killed when a sea cliff collapsed in Southern California were members of a family gathered on a beach to celebrate one of them having survived breast cancer, authorities and relatives said.

Anne Clave, 35, and her mother, Julie Davis, 65, died at hospitals after the sandstone bluff gave way at Grandview Beach, the San Diego County Medical Examiner said.

A family email obtained by KNSD-TV identified the third victim as Elizabeth Cox, Ms Clave’s aunt.

The victims were part of a family gathering celebrating Ms Cox surviving breast cancer, the email said.

Ms Cox died instantly at the scene, the email said. Her age was not given.

The area where the sea cliff collapsed on Friday

Ms Clave “enriched the lives of all those around her with the joy and fun she brought to all,” the email said, and Ms Davis was an “incredible grandmother”.

The three women leave behind spouses, children, and many members of their extended families, the news station reported.

“The nature of the accident and the loss is incomprehensible to all of us, our children and those around us,” the email said.

On Saturday, officials reopened much of the popular surf beach that was closed following the tragedy.

Someone left a bouquet of flowers on a nearby rock.

A 30-foot-long slab of the cliff plunged onto the sand on Friday afternoon.

A lifeguard reported feeling and hearing the thud as the dense dirt landed on the beach.

People nearby scrambled to the towering pile of debri to help search for victims.

“I saw first responders, and I saw lifeguards frantically digging people out of the debris,” Jim Pepperdine, who lives nearby, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Search and rescue personnel head down to the site of the cliff collapse

Mr Pepperdine said he saw people trying to resuscitate a woman before her body was covered.

Suburbs north of San Diego have long contended with rising water levels in the Pacific Ocean that pressure bluffs along the coast.

Some are fortified with concrete walls to prevent multimillion-dollar homes from falling into the sea.

Long stretches of beach in Encinitas are narrow strips of sand between stiff waves and towering rock walls. People lounging on beach chairs or blankets are sometimes surprised as waves roll past them and within a few feet of the walls.

Grandview Beach can be reached by wooden stairs from a car park above. It is fairly narrow, with tides high this week. Surfers often lay their boards upright against the bluff.

Cliffside collapses are not unusual as the ocean chews away at the base of the sandstone, authorities said. Some beach areas have been marked with signs warning of slide dangers.

Bluffs give way four to eight times a year in Southern California, but “nothing of this magnitude,” said Brian Ketterer, southern field division chief of California State Parks.

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