SAN DIEGO, Ca. – Authorities in California say a San Diego-based running group resorted to mass suicide this week after its members failed to collectively reach an alleged goal of one trillion steps using a popular fitness tracking device known as a Fitbit.
“At approximately seven-thirty p.m. Thursday evening, search-and-rescue teams were dispatched to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park following reports that a number of individuals were seen throwing themselves off the bluffs,” a spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department announced during a press briefing Friday afternoon. Citing an ongoing investigation, police declined to provide further details but acknowledged that as of Friday morning, some sixty-eight bodies had been recovered near the base of the cliff.
Thirty-four year-old Juan Silvero, a four-time triathlon winner and longtime resident of Point Loma, told NBC San Diego that he alerted authorities immediately after witnessing the bizarre mass suicide. “I’d just finished a ten-mile run and I saw these people and you know, at first it wasn’t clear what they were doing, but all of a sudden they’re vaulting off the cliff like lemmings,” recalled the avid runner. “I mean, I understand that frustration when you don’t get your steps in but this was unreal.”
However, for Natalie Weathers, the tragedy is all too real. The fifty-one year-old yoga instructor believes her daughter is among the victims of Thursday’s peculiar mass suicide. “Katie left home two months ago after getting involved with some kind running club,” Mrs. Weathers told NBC San Diego. “She sold all her belongings. The only things she kept were a pair of running shorts and a Fitbit. I remember thinking how ludicrous it was but she was so adamant about it. The last thing she told me before she left was how she needed to get her steps. She said, ‘Mother, I need to get my steps, it’s all about the steps.”
As shocking as Thursday’s events may be, California is no stranger to mass suicide. On March 26, 1997, thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate, a San Diego-based religious group led by Marshal Applewhite, committed suicide in an effort to facilitate entry into an alien spacecraft believed to be trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. Investigators later determined that no such spacecraft existed.