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Lifeguards caution visitors after bluff collapse

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 20:52:00-04

ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) -- A recent bluff failure in Encinitas has lifeguards cautioning visitors as we head into the summer season.

Alyson Earnest has lived near the bluffs in Encinitas her whole life. Last Friday, yellow tape near the steps at Grandview Beach caught her attention.

"I've seen bluff fails, and I've seen yellow tape, but I've never seen anything that was just a big, solid cube, a big rock, a big boulder. I was pretty shocked, nobody said anything about it," said Earnest.

According to lifeguards, the large chunk of sandstone fell from private property on May 29th.

"There's all sorts of factors, environmental factors, rain, heat, surf , tide that all impact those bluffs," said Captain Larry Giles of the Marine Safety Division in Encinitas.

Earnest discovered the failure on Friday. Saturday, she captured pictures of sunbathers sitting directly beneath the section of rock that fell.

"Especially if you're visiting and you're tourist, you really don't see the signs. We all know what happened to the Davis family," said Earnest.

The Davis family suffered unimaginable tragedy during the summer of 2019. Julie Davis,65; her 35-year-old daughter, Anne Clave; both of Encinitas, and Davis' 62-year-old sister, Elizabeth Charles of San Francisco were killed when a giant chunk of bluff fell, crushing them.

It happened just a few hundred yards north of the recent failure.

"It is both horrifying and predictable," said Bibi Fell, an attorney with Fell Law and Athea Trial Lawyers.

Fell is one of the attorneys representing the Davis family in a lawsuit against Encinitas, California, and a local HOA.

"It's just further evidence that there is a real problem that needs to be dealt with, or we're going to lose more human life," said Fell.

Lifeguards say there are 120 signs in Encinitas warning people about the dangers of bluff collapses, but the warnings are often ignored. The impact of the tides limits where the signs can be placed.

"We have an ever-evolving tidal and surf conditions down here, and it's all the way up against the bluffs in some of these areas, and our sand fluctuates from time of summer to winter, so it's up to the ocean what we can and can't do," said Captain Giles.

Earnest said maybe new signs would help.

"I just think more specific information and maybe different kinds of signs that catch people's attention, and then sit at your own risk," said Earnest.