Tide Halts Search for San Francisco Beach Landslide Victim

February 23, 2019 Updated: February 24, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—High tide on Feb. 23 forced the suspension of the search for the body of a woman believed trapped under tons of dirt on a San Francisco beach.

U.S. Park Police took over recovery operations Friday night after San Francisco firefighters called off rescue efforts more than three hours after the woman was reported trapped under a landslide on the city’s Fort Funston beach.

Bystanders pulled one woman buried up to her neck to safety on a beach popular with dog walkers. The dog was rescued as well.

Rescuers with search dogs trying to find a person
Rescuers with search dogs trying to find a person who was thought to be buried by a landslide near a San Francisco beach, on Feb. 22, 2019. (KGO-TV via AP)

Dozens of search-and-rescue workers had been frantically sifting through the sand by hand and with shovels but opted to stop more than three hours after the collapse was first reported, San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Jon Baxter said.

The two women were walking with a dog Friday afternoon about halfway on the cliff above Fort Funston beach, Baxter said. Witnesses said the two women each had a hand extended and touching the cliff when it gave way and they were swept to the beach in the landslide, Baxter said.

Fort Funston is set above steep sandstone cliffs and is a protected area within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The cliff is about 200 feet above the San Francisco beach.

The former military installation and the beach below are popular off-leash areas for dog walkers.

Baxter said bystanders pulled one woman and the dog from the landslide and were furiously digging for the buried woman when rescue workers arrived. The rescued woman was taken to a hospital with injuries that aren’t life-threatening, Baxter said.

Rescue workers were also “pinging” the woman’s mobile phone, and a metal detector was on the way to the scene, Baxter said. Two dogs specially trained to find trapped people still alive were running up and down the slide.

“Cadaver” dogs trained to find human remains were at the scene about 10 miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge, he said.

Searchers said they will resume looking for the body when conditions are safe.

Officials have not released the identities of either woman.

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