Larry and Judy Cobbs were taking an evening stroll through Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach on Tuesday when they got a shock they won’t soon forget.
It was about 5:30 p.m., and they were passing the park’s distinctive sinkhole in the coastal bluffs.
“We were walking along, and all of a sudden everything to our right started falling into the ocean,” Larry Cobbs said.
First to go was the remnant of land that borders the seaward side of the sinkhole called a land bridge. Then, chunks of land along other sides of the sinkhole began collapsing.
“One section after another fell,” Cobbs recalled. “It was heading right towards us.”
Unsure how much of the bluffs would collapse, the Shell Beach couple scrambled to safety in the grassy area of the park farther inland.
“It was spectacular,” he said.
Cobbs called the police to report the collapse. Officers quickly arrived and began cordoning the area off.
Soon, several neighbors living adjacent to the park began arriving to see what had happened. The collapse was big enough to cause a localized earthquake.
“I thought it was an earthquake or a sonic boom; the whole house shook,” said Victoria Thomas, who lives across the street from the park at Cliff Avenue and Water Street.
The slide area is still cordoned off along with parts of the blufftop trail, but the park remains open, said Randy Bloom, Pismo Beach community development director. Some irrigation and electricity utilities may have to be rerouted around the slide area.
The slide was doubtless the result of recent rains that left the ground saturated with water, Bloom said. Heavy surf also eroded the base of the cliffs.
“This is just nature taking its course,” Bloom said.