A 67-year-old hiker fell 500 feet to his death while trying to rescue his canine companion, which had slid down a cliff in Thornton State Beach near San Francisco, California, on Feb. 19.
According to California Highway Patrol, the unidentified man was walking his dog on the steep bluffs above the beach.
The dog slid down a steep section of the trail and got trapped. His owner, in his attempts to save his beloved pet, also slipped and fell 500 feet to his death.
The dog kept pacing back and forth, barking and whimpering.
When rescue crews lifted the wrapped body onto to a stretcher and carried it away, the dog got as close to the edge of the ledge as possible, trying to reach its owner.
— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) February 19, 2018
“The dog definitely knows if you are hurt, no doubt,” dog walker Kyle Moreno told CBS News. “The dog knows that the cliff is there, but sometimes dogs get overstimulated.”
The area is popular with hikers and dog walkers, even though the park is officially closed because of damage caused by landslides—which can still be an issue.
“It’s really steep—it’s like a straight drop off,” Kyle Moreno told Fox26. “I stay away just knowing how crumbly the cliff is. When it’s that steep it can just fall right from underneath you.”
Tedd Leblanc who lives in Daly City, where the park is located, was out hiking on the bluffs with some friends on Monday. He told CBS that landslides can still be an issue.
“Sometimes things can move around. You gotta be careful. Definitely always be on alert because rocks can tumble,” he said.
Rescue crews were not able to coax the dog back up the cliff. Finally, the victim’s son arrived. The dog responded to the familiar voice and returned to the top of the cliff, Fox26 reported.
Fox26 also reported that the victim’s wife told a park official that her husband had been walking those trails for 50 years.
Park rangers told CBS News that there are no leash laws in the park. Other Park Service personnel told Fox that there is a standard warning for people who lose pets not to try to rescue the pets themselves.