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Autopsy shows Santa Rosa High School graduate's injuries consistent with cliff fall

  • Giselle Ayala

Sheriff's officials in Santa Barbara Tuesday said Giselle Ayala, 18, of Santa Rosa most likely died last weekend from falling off a cliff along the oceanfront community where she'd gone for a spring break party.

An autopsy showed Ayala "sustained injuries consistent with a fall," sheriff's officials said in a statement.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover earlier Tuesday had indicated a fall as the probable, but not yet official, cause of death.

"It's definitely a strong likelihood," said Hoover. "The cliff, her falling is a possibility we're looking at."

If that's how the Cal Poly freshman died, she would be the second such fatality in the same area since November. In September, two young men went off the cliffs and survived, according to news reports.

The dangers of college students, alcohol and the cliffs of Isla Vista have been recognized as an ongoing problem by local officials, law enforcement, college administrators and student leaders.

The school routinely sends out email messages to students warning about partying near Isla Vista's cliffs. And this spring almost 400 feet of low rail fencing was added to what had been a county park's unobstructed bluff edge.

"We do have the ocean there and we have 60-foot cliffs there. They're very dangerous," said Rhandy Siordia, an Isla Vista resident, UC Santa Barbara senior and the college's associated student vice president.

This latest death adds to the concern, Siordia said. "It's something our community really has to confront and deal with."

Ayala was last seen by her friends at about 11 p.m. Friday. A beach jogger found her the next morning, dead in the water off of a campus beach.

The 2012 Santa Rosa High School graduate had gone with friends from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara for the weekend. Saturday was Isla Vista's annual spring break party.

Isla Vista is located on an ocean bluff, adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus. It's home to about 20,000 residents, many of them UC students.

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