One man died as four people plunged off a 300-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes Estates in an early-morning accident, California authorities told news outlets.
The four friends went to the cliff Sunday, May 22, to hike and hang out, Vincent Avila, 25, who was hurt in the fall, told KNBC. Early the next morning, a woman in the group moved too close to the edge and began to fall.
“While she was slipping, her three other friends who were with her attempted to save her from falling down,” Capt. Steve Barber of the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department told KABC. “Unfortunately, all four of them ended up going over together.”
Jerardo Huitzil, 25, died in the plunge, coroner’s office officials told KNBC. Two others were hospitalized in critical condition.
Avila, who climbed back up the cliff to seek help at 4:45 a.m. Monday, May 23, remains hospitalized with moderate injuries, according to the station.
The two men and two women who fell are all in their 20s, KTLA reported. Firefighters described the cliff edge as extremely hazardous.
“You have to keep your mind about what you’re doing and how you’re moving,” hiker Rakesh Sharma told KABC. “You have to be careful, but if you’re not from this area and you think you can goof around on the trail, no, that’s risky business.”
“Someone lost their life today. Someone young … their future. It’s very sad this has to happen in this beautiful community,” neighbor Chris Reese told KTLA, saying nearby residents have asked for warning signs and fencing on the cliff.
Palos Verdes Estates is a city of about 13,000 people southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.