Man Dies in Fall Off Cliff

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

June 29, 2023

The County Sheriff’s Department said that a man who fell to his death off a cliff at a popular Avila Beach spot was the result of a terrible accident.

Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said they got a call about 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 21 of a man who fell off a cliff from someone at Pirate’s Cove, a secluded public nude beach just down the coast from Avila Beach proper.

Cipolla said, “Deputies, Cal Fire, and [Port San Luis] Harbor Patrol responded to the incident to begin a rescue operation. When they arrived, the man had no pulse, was not breathing and was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Cipolla said witnesses, presumably on the beach, told officers the man had been sitting on the cliff high above the beach facing the water. He lost his footing when he stood up to leave, Cipolla said, and fell off the cliff about 200-feet to the rocks below.

“At this time,” Cipolla said on June 21, “the death appears to be accidental.” On June 22 Cipolla released the name of the man, identified as Francisco Javier Velasco Garcia, 33 of Nipomo.

Those cliffs at Pirate’s Cove border the edge of a roadway and numerous people have fallen off over the years. Many died but a few somehow survived. 

Like climbing Morro Rock, the Cliff’s at Pirate’s Cove can be treacherous for anyone and the reason firefighters and search and rescue teams train in rock climbing and helicopter rescues.

It was the second tragic death in Avila Beach in a couple of days. About 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 18, a man fell off his kayak while paddling in the waters off Avila with a friend. The friend attempted to save his companion but he was already unresponsive when he reached him. 

Unable to pull him into his kayak, the friend paddled to shore and called for help. Searchers later found the man’s body and brought him in.

That incident too is being called an accident, and no foul play is suspected. The drowning victim’s name had not been released by EBN’s June 22 deadline.

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