Santa Cruz Ocean Cliff Owners Must Remove Exposed Steel Spikes in Seawalls that can Maim and Kill Surfers
Friday, July 15, 2016By Richard Alexander
On the afternoon of October 19, 2015 at high tide Glenn Harper Glenn descended the sloping, concrete seawall steps at 32nd Street, a popular and high traffic beach access that has been used by Pleasure Point surfers for decades.
The seawall was constructed of sprayed concrete, known as shotcrete, and steel reinforcing bars. It was installed by cliff side property owners for erosion control and owned by them as far back as the 1950s. The County of Santa Cruz held easement rights for public access to the ocean long before the Coastal Commission was created in 1972.
The steps and the seawall were deteriorated by years of pounding surf.
High tide concealed rusted rebar spikes protruding from the seawall. The spikes were created by result of years of ocean waves wearing away the concrete and exposing the reinforcing steel bar, which had rusted into spikes that could kill or maim.
As Glenn entered the water with his board, a wave threw him against the seawall where his hand and arm were impaled on a rusted spike that tore through his wetsuit, piercing his right forearm near the elbow and ripping through his arm and right hand, exiting through the palm and causing an avulsive, degloving of skin and muscle. Had he hit his neck or head, he could have died.
A photo taken by the Good Samaritan who rescued Glenn shows a portion of his skewered arm on the spike.
That photo and one of Glenn’s arm in surgery confirm the devastating injury and the extreme hazard of rusted seawall spikes at Pleasure Point.
This horrendously dangerous and concealed hazard easily could have been removed with a cutting torch at low tide at minimal expense.
When owners abdicate their responsibilities to protect and warn of extreme hazards to the public, government should take charge or share full responsibility. In this case the County and the owner of this seawall were derelict in their supervision and control of this extremely dangerous condition.
Alexander Law Group, LLP, San Francisco and San Jose, represents Glenn Harper in his lawsuit for personal injuries against the County of Santa Cruz and Iceplant, LLC. Santa Cruz County Superior Court 16 CV 00804.