The three victims killed when a cliff collapsed on a beach in Leucadia, California, Friday were related: a daughter, mother and aunt, spending a day at the beach celebrating life and a recent family triumph.
The women were identified by surviving family members as Annie Clave, 35, Julie Davis, 65, and Elizabeth Cox. Davis was Clave’s mother. Cox was Davis’ sister and Clave’s aunt.
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The family of the victims sent an email to friends and loved ones Saturday about the cliff collapse that shattered their worlds.
The email, obtained by NBC 7 Saturday, said the family was at Grandview Beach Friday, enjoying a beach day celebrating the tough battle Cox had fought against breast cancer.
The women were at the beach with a large group of friends and family members, including children.
Suddenly, tragedy struck.
The family looked on in horror as a cliff came crashing down. A lead Encinitas official would later describe that tumbling cliff as being approximately 30 feet wide, with a depth of about 25 feet.
The email said Cox died "instantly" at the scene. Davis was airlifted to Scripps Encinitas Hospital and Clave was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Neither would survive their injuries.
The email said Clave "enriched the lives of all those around her with the joy and fun she brought to all," and called Davis an "incredible grandmother."
Davis was affectionately known as "Mimi" to her grandchildren, to whom, the email said, she "gave so much love and care to."
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The three women leave behind spouses, children, and many members of their extended families.
"Writing this seems so empty in comparison to the life, love, and joy that these 3 beautiful irreplaceable women brought to our family and friends," the email read.
"The nature of the accident and the loss is incomprehensible to all of us, our children and those around us. It is so sudden and traumatic, and our hearts go out to each other and all the children in our family who will need strength to try and understand this, when we ourselves will never understand it."
The family email said they are grateful none of the children in the family were hurt in the cliff collapse.
The email said many of Davis’ grandchildren – who are "generally glued to their Mimi" – had been hanging around the impact zone just moments before the cliff collapsed.
The email went on to say the families are finding strength to come together and remember the beautiful memories Clave, Davis and Cox left behind.
"They will always be with us," the note added.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office has yet to formally identify the victims; that information is expected at a later time.
Meanwhile, Encinitas officials said Saturday the rocks to the left and right of the cliff that collapsed were "fractured" and "still active." Grandview Beach was closed to the public overnight, but reopened late Saturday morning.
Grandview Beach, located off Neptune Avenue, is a popular surfing spot located in the city of Encinitas in San Diego's North County. The beach was filled with people enjoying a sunny summer day when the earth came tumbling down.