A 20-year-old college student disappeared during a surfing trip to Mexico and his family and friends believe he fell to his death off a seaside cliff near his campsite.
Scott Robert Fippinger, a San Diego native and a junior at California State University San Marcos, was camping with some friends at a cliffside campsite near Rosarito Beach – about 30 minutes south of the U.S.-Mexico border – when he left his tent around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 14th. His friends said they remember seeing his cellphone light on and assumed he got up to go the bathroom.
When they awoke later in the morning, however, the young surfer was not in his sleeping bag.
The group was camped at a site on Highway 1, next to a steep cliff with about a 40-foot drop, and Fippinger’s father said that the gusty winds that night could have blown him over the side. Fippinger’s phone was found by the cliff's edge and a piece of cloth that could have come from his pajamas was clinging to a piece of rebar that was part of a short makeshift fence.
"We are assuming that he went over the cliff, into the ocean and got swept out by the tide," his father told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Fippinger’s father, a retired Marine Corps colonel and pilot named Eric, and his wife have been in Mexico for the last week, desperately searching for their missing son. High tide that morning was at 3:38 a.m. and waves reached up to the base of the cliff – indicating that the surfer may have been swept to see after his presumed fall.
“My wife and I only have two sets of eyes,” Eric Fippinger told local media. “We really need our friends in Baja to help us find our son.”
Units from the Mexican Naval base in Ensenada have aided in the search for the missing surfer and lifeguards from the Salvavidas division of the Bomberos de Rosarito have also been helping with the search by sweeping along the four-mile stretch of coastline between El Campito and Camp Lopez. Fippinger disappeared at Chuie’s Surf Camp, which is located just south of El Campito, near the popular American restaurant Splash.
Similar cases in the past have seen missing bodies resurface anywhere between five and seven days later, with current ocean conditions pointing to the body of Fippinger being pushed toward the coastline between Medio Camino and the port of La Salina sometime in the next two weeks.