Families demand road barrier at Devil's Slide to prevent cars from driving off cliffs along Hwy 1
PACIFICA, Calif (KTVU) - A beautiful stretch of Highway 1 from Pacifica to Montara follows the curves of the cliffs leading down to the Pacific Ocean. It’s known as “Devil’s Slide.” Beautiful, but deadly, it’s claimed the lives of three young people in the past 13 years. Their families said they believe the deadly accidents could possibly have been prevented if there was something between the road and the cliff’s edge.
"Near here where we're talking, there's a ramp here that Evel Knievel could use. These need a barrier,” said Dan Moss of a soft dirt mound before the cliff edge.
Moss is still searching for his son, 22 year-old Richard Moss, who disappeared on May 25.
Richard Moss drove to the McDonald’s in Pacifica for breakfast and was seen on surveillance cameras leaving the Tom Lantos Tunnel at 7:12 AM. He was heading to his job at Moss Beach. Two cars ahead of Richard’s were seen passing the Chevron station surveillance cameras a mile and a half up the road, but Richard’s was not seen.
"After 50 days of searching, we found his wheel at the bottom of the cliff over here,” said Dan Moss.
Richard’s family believes he died accidentally driving off the cliff and they’re still searching for him and his car.
Richard’s story is similar to Jason Affolder’s. Affolder’s fiancé, Glenda Cota, was 8-months pregnant when he disappeared in 2004.
"He was on his way to work. It was about seven in the morning when he lost control of his car and went over,” said Cota.
“We were lucky that there were drivers behind him so that we knew what happened."
Affolder’s car was never recovered, but Affolder’s body washed to shore a few days after the accident.
Joining the Moss and Affolder families on Highway 1 Saturday morning holding signs demanding CalTrans install concrete barriers to the cliffs, were the sister and brother-in-law of Rose De Alba.
On September 24, 2016, De Alba was driving home at night after watching a rodeo in Half Moon Bay. She pulled over and recorded a SnapChat video saying she was lost.
"She was describing how she was lost and how she wasn't familiar with the area, how she didn't know where she was going and that it was really, really foggy,” said her brother-in-law Darius Hanneman.
He said CHP officers voluntarily rappelled down the cliff and found De Alba’s purse hanging on a rock. Her body was discovered the next day.
"We always go to the cemetary and we always wonder ‘what if.’ What if there was a barrier?" said Hanneman.
Locals question why barriers were never installed along the dangerous stretch after years of deaths and near-death accidents. Dan Moss said the scar on his forehead was from an accident years ago on the north end of the tunnel and his car fell down 50 feet.
"I'm a local resident and I drive this stretch south of Tom Lantos daily,” said Montara resident Alysa Sutter.
“There are several places on this strip that are unsafe or the barriers are outdated."
They argue Caltrans need to install concrete barriers, especially, since it’s telling that many of the accidents happen to locals familiar with the drive.
"It could be anything. The result is death. Instead of a crashed car. It should be a crashed car. They need to put barriers out here now, not a week or a month from now,” said Moss.
Cota and Affolder’s son is now 13 years-old. Cota said she worries that her son will soon be driving and will have to one day drive Devil’s Slide.
"Already [I’m] experiencing extreme difficulty accepting that he will be driving the same stretches of road. We’re local born and raised,” said Cota.
Caltrans spokesman said an engineering team came out to the area on Wednesday to survey the land. He said the engineering team will complete a report and recommendation for what can be done to the area.
In the meantime, the families of Moss, Affolder, and De Alba said they will be holding signs and demonstrating every Saturday until barriers are put in place.
Moss said divers will resume the search for his son Richard on Sunday.