Incoming waves forced two women walking a dog Friday on a San Francisco beach partway up a 200-foot sandstone cliff, The Mercury News reported.
Then part of the cliff collapsed at 2:30 p.m., burying the dog-walkers and sweeping them onto the beach below Fort Funston, an old military base, KGO reported.
“Ocean waves come into the bluff and undermine it,” said Charlie Strickfaden, a National Park Services spokesperson, KNTV reported. “Unfortunately we consider this a tragic natural event.”
Bystanders freed the dog and one woman, who had been buried in sand up to her shoulders, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. She had minor injuries but was in shock.
San Francisco Fire Department crews with shovels and tractors searched Friday and Saturday for the other woman, who remains missing and is now presumed to have died, according to the publication. Search dogs also assisted in the efforts.
“Crews made a very valiant attempt at saving this young woman’s life. It hurts, it’s tough,” Chief Joanne Hayes-White said Friday, KNTV reported. “We train to save lives and something like this today is difficult for us.”
A high tide at 2:30 a.m. Saturday washed away much of the debris, KUTV reported. Authorities are not sure whether the missing woman’s body remains buried or has been washed out to sea.
San Francisco animal control authorities are caring for the dog, which will be returned to the woman’s family, The Mercury News reported.
“This is a very sad event,” said Lt. Jonathan Baxter of the San Francisco Fire Department, according to the publication.
Fort Funston, located on the cliffs above the beach, opened in the early 1900s, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy says. It housed 16-inch gun batteries and Nike missiles over its life as an active military base.
The former fort and beach, which are now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, are popular with hang-gliders and dog-walkers, the conservancy says.