ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) - Three people are dead and two people were injured Friday when a bluff collapsed just north of Grandview Surf Beach in Encinitas, San Diego County Sheriff's deputies confirmed.
The bluff fell about 3 p.m. near a lifeguard tower at the Grandview Beach staircase located in the 1700 block of Neptune Avenue, just below South Ponto State Beach.
One person was flown to the hospital in critical condition. A second victim was transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Both of those victims have succumbed to their injuries. Officials closed part of Highway 101 temporarily Friday afternoon to land a life flight helicopter.
Two others suffered minor injuries and their conditions are unknown at this time. There were no children among the victims, deputies said during a news conference Friday.
Search and rescue dogs are assisting crews to determine if anyone else may be trapped under the debris.
One person who talked to 10News said he arrived at the beach moments after the collapse and saw crowds trying to clear rocks away from the collapse to save anyone who was trapped.
"It's just horrifying that the people underneath were there in the moment," said Fabian. "Let's just hope for the people."
The chunk of cliff that collapsed is about the size of a bus and is as heavy as a concrete wall, said geologist Dr. Pat Abbott. The area is 25 by 30 feet, lifeguard officials confirmed, adding that the debris reaches 10 feet at its highest point.
Rising waves are creating a dangerous situation for first responders. The disaster happened about an hour and a half before low tide, with "one of the highest tides of the year" expected late Friday night, lifeguards said.