Giant billboard crashes down on South Bay road

Posted at 6:57 AM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 20:56:11-05

SAN DIEGO - A billboard structure collapsed onto an Egger Highlands street early Tuesday morning, narrowly missing a group of people sleeping below.

Authorities say the 30-year-old sign in front of American Recycling came crashing down at around 2 a.m. along the usually busy Palm Ave., just west of Interstate 5 near Thermal Ave.

According to investigators, a large supporting leg that holds up the billboard was rusted, possibly causing it to crash down to the ground.

The billboard, owned by Lamar Advertising Company, fell right over a small homeless encampment, but authorities said no injuries were reported.

"People usually sleep under the ramp, so we thought somebody might have gotten hurt," said Valentina Tiemann, who lives nearby.

Nathan Duke said he knows the group of homeless people who slept under the billboard, saying, "Somebody could have been easily decapitated when that fell over."

City of San Diego officials say it is the billboard owner's responsibility to maintain the structure. Officials also said there are no inspection of billboards beyond initial approval.

Lamar Advertising Company issued this statement to 10News:

"A small billboard structure collapsed on the corner of Palm Ave and Thermal Ave in San Diego early this morning. Thankfully nobody was injured, and it did not impact traffic in the area. Safety is very important to us, and we are investigating the situation. Our team is working with San Diego Gas & Electric to safely dismantle and dispose of the structure. Once our investigation into this matter is complete, we will be able to comment further on details surrounding today's incident."