SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Rescuers suspended their search Friday evening for a woman buried under a collapsed cliffside at Fort Funston in San Francisco and have switched from search to recovery mode.
Rescuers had been digging for hours using shovels and their bare hands in their attempt to reach the woman who had been seen along the cliff edge with another woman and a dog when it gave way at about 2:50 p.m. Friday.
Witnesses said the two women were about halfway on the cliff over Fort Funston beach and had a hand extended and touching the cliff when it gave way, fire department spokesman Lt. Jonathan Baxter said. All 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, which says the cliff is about 200 feet (61 meters) above the San Francisco beach.
Baxter said bystanders pulled one woman and the dog from the landslide and were furiously digging for the buried woman when rescue workers arrived. Both suffered non-life threatening injuries.
The second woman had not been located by nightfall when the search was suspended and she is presumed to be dead.
Several dozen first responders were seen digging away at a massive mound of collapsed earth at the shoreline as waves lapped up at the site, which is off the Sunset and Funston Beach Trails west of Skyline Blvd. near John Muir Drive.
“We have the ocean coming in on high tide, sand is cracking, concerns in the dark that this becomes a hazard to our firefighters,” said Baxter. “The likelihood that this individual is alive is very unlikely, unfortunately.”
Two live body K9 rescue teams were also on hand to try to pick up the victim’s scent. Cadaver dogs were also summoned to continue in the recovery operation.
No word yet the identity of the victim.