PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. -- Four people fell off a Southern California ocean cliff before dawn Monday and a man was killed and two women were critically injured, authorities said.
The fourth person, a man who suffered minor injuries, managed to climb back up from the beach below and alert a passing officer at about 4:30 a.m., said Capt. Steve Barber of the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department.
A 25-year-old man from Los Angeles died at the scene, Barber said. Two women were airlifted from the beach and each hospitalized in critical condition, he said.
TV news helicopters showed a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter hoisting one of the victims to a rescue vehicle at the top of the cliff.
Police were investigating the event as an accident, Barber said.
The man who survived, 25-year-old Vincent Avila of Los Angeles, was hospitalized with broken ribs and minor kidney damage, KNBC-TV reported.
“This is a miracle,” his mother, Irma, told the news station.
Her son told her that the four friends went to the cliffs Sunday night to hike and hang out. She said when one of the women went to relieve herself in the dark, she slipped and fell. The other three sat at the edge trying to find her in the dark, and they slipped too.
Palos Verdes Estates is on the Palos Verdes Peninsula at the southern end of Los Angeles County. A trail runs along the bluff top about 300 feet (91 meters) above the Pacific Ocean.
There have been several accidents in the area over the years, Barber said, and a few suicides.
"There's no indication at this point that this was anything other than an accident,” he said.