A man walking his dog on Ocean Beach on Thursday made a gruesome discovery when he saw a hand protruding from the sand on the south end of the shore.
At about 8:15 a.m., the man called the National Park Service to report that he had seen the hand in a rough area of the beach south of Sloat Boulevard, National Park Service spokesman Michael Feinstein said Thursday. The hand belonged to a man who had apparently fallen asleep in the sand and been buried during the night, Feinstein said.
The man was near the base of an unstable cliff, where sand fell off the top and buried him. “It could have been that the weather moved the sand, or it could have been just the sand shifting, which happens in that area,” Feinstein said.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office will make the final determination as to whether the death was a homicide, but Feinstein said it didn’t initially appear to be foul play.
Feinstein said the man was approximately 8 inches below the surface of the sand. “I would say it was close to the surface but you couldn’t tell there was a body there unless you walked past it and noticed the hand,” he said.
The Medical Examiner’s Office is not releasing the man’s identity until his next of kin has been notified. Feinstein described him as a white male, about 48 to 50 years old, in a sleeping bag.
“There are other ways of death at the beach such as drowning, but it’s rare to find someone who’s been buried by sand under the beach,” Feinstein said. In over 20 years with the park service, he said he’s never seen it before.