A hiker was killed and three of his friends were injured after falling off a cliff in southern California.
The four friends were reportedly hiking on Sunday evening at around 11 p.m. in the Palos Verdes Estates when the tragedy occurred. Speaking with NBC Los Angeles, one of the survivors, Vincent Avila, said he and his friends were hanging out by the cliffs when one of his female pals went to use the restroom outside in the dark and suddenly slipped over the edge. The three others soon rushed to try and help the woman but ended up falling over the 300 feet drop, too.
Despite losing his shoes and phone during the fall, Vincent managed to climb back up to the top of the cliff, where he was able to find some help at around 4:40 a.m. Per CBS News, a rescue mission was soon underway with fire crews descending down the rock face using a rope system to get the others. One woman was reportedly lifted back to the top and placed in an ambulance, while the other was airlifted to the hospital. Both were in critical condition at the time but expected to survive.
Palos Verdes Police Captain Steve Barber said:
“Both of them told us there were hanging at the cliff’s edge. The female who we did interview stated she slipped. And as she was starting to fall, her friends, all three of them, tried to save her. And in doing so, all four of them went over the cliff.”
Unfortunately, their 25-year-old friend Jerardo Huitzil did not make it. Avila suffered a broken rib and internal damage to one of his kidneys. His mom Irma told FOX11 that he also had multiple deep cuts and bruises on his legs and face, which he got while climbing to the top of the cliff. She said her son believed Huitzil had been knocked unconscious from the fall and was not aware that his friend had died at the time.
Irma shared with the outlet that the group had known each other since high school and would frequently go on hikes together. LA County Fire Captain Wade Kelsey detailed how the area was “extremely dangerous” for several reasons, explaining:
“There’s no fencing in the area. There’s sloping to where it just goes off to a sheer cliff, and the majority of the area here is very unstable, very dangerous if you get close to the edge of this cliff without any sort of protection.”
Even residents are aware of how bad the spot can be. Tatiana Osoimalo told CBS that it is especially treacherous at night, saying:
“It’s really nice here, but these cliffs are really slippery, so it’s pretty dangerous. You can’t see anything. Nothing in the ocean. Everything is really black, you just see the headlights of the cars.”
Such a horrible tragedy. We will be keeping Jerardo‘s friends and family in our thoughts while they mourn his sudden loss.
[Image via CBS Los Angeles/YouTube]