NBC7 San Diego: Husband, Father of Leucadia Bluff Collapse Victims Lobbies for Safety Improvements

February 3, 2020
In The News

You may not immediately recognize Dr. Pat Davis' name, but you'll likely remember his story. He was with his family on a beach in Leucadia last summer when a cliff above collapsed and killed three of his family members.

With the support of Congressman Mike Levin (D-49), Dr. Davis has a new mission to stop cliff tragedies from happening to other families.

The two have been lobbying in Washington to accelerate the already-approved Solana Beach-Encinitas Coastline Shore Project – a plan that will put at least $30 million of mostly-federal money into beach replenishment – and they’ll be side-by-side in the audience Tuesday at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.

With a rugged coastline and spectacular view, Grandview Beach in Encinitas has long been a sanctuary for recreation, for families, for fun.

But you will understand if Davis and his family now have a different view.

“I’ll bet Annie, my daughter that was killed, had been to that beach with her husband a thousand times since they were in junior high school,” Davis said.

Davis and his extended family were at Grandview Beach last August when the cliff above them collapsed.

“Why I wasn’t killed is beyond me. I was right next to my wife. We were sitting a foot apart and the bluff collapsed in such a way that it took out the three chairs next to me. Not mine,” he said.

Gone in an instant: his wife Julie, his youngest daughter Annie, and sister-in-law Elizabeth whose victory against cancer the family was celebrating.

It was a horrible accident that touched an entire community and empowered the Encinitas pediatric dentist to fight through his grief and push governments to make beaches safer.

Now, almost 6 months later, Davis is getting some national help from Rep. Levin.

“The new reality is when you combine water and land use with climate change, it creates a new normal that we have to be mindful of, and although we live in this extraordinarily amazing place, we have to be mindful of the risks of living on the coast,” Levin said.

The primary goal of the Shore Project is to stabilize the cliffs along the shore. Both the Congressman and Davis concede sand replenishment is not enough and say comprehensive changes are needed, but it's a start to making things better and it's a start for Davis who has vowed to never stop lobbying for change.

“I would find it difficult to live with myself if I did nothing about this and this happened to someone else’s family,” Davis said.

Davis may be a dentist, but like a structural engineer he has some specific safety changes he would like to see employed to make beaches safer, including safe zones: a concept involving retaining walls near lifeguard towers that would give beach goers a safe place to gather.