4 Deaths and 3 Serious Injuries During the Year
By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
Last year–2016– ended up as another deadly year at Sunset Cliffs, the beautiful yet dangerous cliffs that abut the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Ocean Beach and Point Loma.
By our calculations, four people died at the cliffs and 3 were seriously injured during 2016. In comparison with 2015, that year had 3 deaths but 8 serious injuries/ rescues.
The month of July, in particular, was the most deadly and dangerous, with 2 deaths and 3 seriously injured people.
The OB Rag has been chronicling death and serious injuries at Sunset Cliffs over the last decade and half, and in 2015, published “Death and Distress at Sunset Cliffs – 2005 to 2015“. Its summary concluded that there’s been an average of 3 deaths and serious injuries per year over that 11 year period. Since we published it, the numbers have gone up and that average has increased. We had found that 2015 had already one of the worst years of these incidents. OB Rag
Here is our chronicle of 2016:
- Feb 6, 2016 – Man’s Body Found in Water Off Osprey Street
A man’s body was found in the water off Osprey Street in the Sunset Cliffs area of Point Loma. The body was first spotted about a half mile to 3/4’s of a mile off the cliffs. It was estimated that the badly decomposed body of a man in his 30’s had been in the water at least a week. No signs of trauma or obvious cause of death were found on the body. OB Rag
- July 5, 2016 – Man Falls to His Death Off Sunset Cliffs
An unidentified man fell to his death, July 5th, near Ladera Street. The 65-year-old guy from San Diego was pronounced dead at the scene, having reportedly fallen 75 to 80 feet into the ocean. A loud thud was heard by passersby, and a man jumped into the water and pulled the victim out. OB Rag
- July 10, 2016 – Woman Found at Bottom of Cliffs – Airlifted Out
A woman on July 10th was found at the bottom of the cliffs and had to be air-lifted by helicopter off the beach. Lifeguards and other first responders had to climb down the cliffs to get to her and administered CPR. This occurred in 800 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. OB Rag
- July 19, 2016 – Woman Saved by Good Samaritan at End of Del Monte
A Good Samaritan saved a 51-year-old woman after she fell off Sunset Cliffs into the ocean, July 19th. The woman somehow fell from the cliffs into the ocean and was immediately pulled out further by the rip current. A nearby resident, Sean Hanrahan, saw that the woman apparently having trouble in the waves, and saw her hit her head against rocks, and jumped in and kept her afloat until lifeguards arrived. She was unconscious when lifeguards pulled her up and said she was suffering from life-threatening injuries. Once she gained consciousness, she was taken to a local hospital and was expected to survive. OB Rag
- July 23, 2016 – Surfer Knocked Unconscious – Hoisted Off Cliffs
A 49-year-old surfer slipped, hitting his head on a rocky edge along the cliffs near Osprey, on July 23rd, as he was getting out of the water and was knocked unconscious. When first responders arrived, they found him being held up out of the water on the rocks by a friend. At that point, he didn’t have a pulse. CPR was performed and he revived. An air ambulance hoisted him from the cliffs and flew him to a nearby hospital.
- July 24, 2016 – Fisherman Drowns After Getting Into Ocean Near Luscom’s
A man fishing near Luscom’s jumped into the ocean on July 24th, reportedly to cool off, and ran into trouble immediately, according to bystanders. Luscom’s is near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Monaco Street. The man had been fishing for about2 hours when bystanders saw him either climb down the cliffs and got in the water or jumped in. As he struggled, he hit his head against the reef. One or 2 people jumped in and tried to save him, and one of them tried to keep the victim afloat. Emergency crews arrived and pulled him from the water, but their efforts at resuscitating him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene. OB Rag
- December 9, 2016 – Man Dies After Falling Down Cliffs
A man died on the beach below Sunset Cliffs. His body had been seen by a passerby who notified Fire-Rescue Department who then discovered that he died on the beach after tumbling at least 50 feet down the cliffs. Emergency crews tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead on the beach.
There may have been more injuries than we have documented here, but the accounting above definitely includes the most serious incidents.
And, by the way, our chronicling of these deaths and injuries in no way means we support more guard rails or higher fencing along the top of the Cliffs.