Slide Closes Pacific Coast Highway; 2 Drivers Injured

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A landslide swept a sheet of tumbling earth and rocks down from a cliff in the Pacific Palisades area onto Pacific Coast Highway this morning, injuring at least two drivers unable to escape in time and damaging several cars.

The drivers--a man and a woman--were taken to Santa Monica Hospital, said Ted Braun, a spokesman for the hospital.

Braun said the injuries did not appear to be serious. "They are not life-threatening injuries," said Braun, who was unable to give the identities of the drivers.

Officer Doug Myers, of the West LAPD traffic division, said of the two injured drivers: "Basically what they got was an exciting E Ticket ride" down Pacific Coast Highway.

Added Judy Lester, a New Jersey resident who was a passenger in a third car, which filled with mud: "It was like being in a bumper car at the pier. . . . All of a sudden it became dark, and mud started coming in the back window."

It was not immediately clear if there was any serious damage to homes in the area. A large piece of concrete, which appeared to be part of a patio from a home above the slide area, seemed to be threatened by the earth movement, LAPD spokesman Roger Mora said.

A Caltrans spokeswoman, Terrygay Jackson, said the agency is not doing any roadwork in the area and is uncertain what might have caused the slide.

Lt. Robert Schroeder, a county lifeguard stationed near the slide area, said at least two cars overturned as the dirt and rocks spilled over a section of the 15000 block of the highway shortly after 11 a.m. The two victims were removed from those cars.

Schroeder said that in addition to the two drivers injured at the scene, three others were being assisted by lifeguards.

"Apparently that strip of highway is (now) just a bunch of dirt," Mora said.

Jackson, of Caltrans, said agency workers have already begun to try to clear dirt from the highway.

While the cleanup continued, police blocked off both sides of the highway to oncoming traffic. "We have closed PCH between Temescal (Canyon Road) and West Channel Road," Mora said.

Times staff writers Steven Braun, Darrell Dawsey and Clay Evans contributed to this story.

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