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Cotati woman dies after fall from San Diego cliff


Anna Bachman was enjoying a winter break with her sister in the San Diego sunshine when tragedy struck on Sunday as the 25-year-old woman died in a fall from a seaside cliff.

Bachman, who grew up in Cotati, was posing for photographs taken by her sister Gail, 29, at 5:19 p.m. when she stepped too close to the edge of a cliff at the south end of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

"The soil gave way and she fell to her death," said her father, Richard Bachman, by telephone from San Diego on Monday.

Bachman's death was accidental, he said, and a San Diego police official said it was "just a tragedy."

Bystanders, including two nurses, attempted to revive Bachman after she fell, but paramedics confirmed her death at the scene, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office said in press release.

Police said she fell 40 to 50 feet.

Bachman, who was due to return to graduate school classes Monday in Chicago, would have turned 26 on Thursday.

"I had 26 years of happiness," Richard Bachman said, describing his younger daughter as "the type of person who gave to everybody else before she gave to herself."

A techno music fan who worked at her father's former Santa Rosa veterinary hospital while growing up, Bachman maintained straight A's at Rancho Cotate High in Rohnert Park, graduating in 2006, and at UC Berkeley, where she earned an urban planning degree in 2011.

Bachman enrolled the next year in a urban planning and policy program at the University of Illinois in Chicago and was scheduled to complete a master's degree in June, her father said.

"She was an excellent student," said Sam Hostettler, a university spokesman.

Anna Bachman was visiting her sister in San Diego "to get out of the cold for a few days," their father said. Anna and Gail, who also graduated from Rancho Cotate, were "extremely close."

In a Jan. 2 message on her sister's Facebook page, Anna Bachman said: "So excited! Especially to get some sun on that pale face."

Gail, a former Peace Corps volunteer, studied physical therapy at San Diego State University and lives in the San Diego community of Ocean Beach.

The area in Ocean Beach where Bachman fell is not roped off but is marked with signs warning of unstable cliffs, 10News in San Diego reported.

"It's marked very clearly to be cautious on the cliffs," San Diego Police Lt. Paul Phillips told the station.

"You know for all intents and purposes it's just a tragedy," he said.

In a 2006 interview, Anna Bachman described a trip to Mexico with her father under the auspices of Compassion Without Borders as the high point of her summer.

"I've worked around animal hospitals my whole life, so I love to volunteer with this group," she said. "We go to Juarez where dogs wander the streets and there's a lot of abuse."

The organization's volunteer spay and neutering teams worked 12- to 14-hour days for five days, she said. "You get incredibly filthy. One of my jobs is pulling ticks off."

During high school, Bachman also worked on Hurricane Katrina relief effort, a holiday canned food drive and a blood drive. She participated in Project Graduation, volunteered with the American Cancer Society, helped with park cleanups, tutored other students and helped build homecoming floats.

Bachman had an internship at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and hoped to land a job there, her father said.

Working with Habitat for Humanity East Bay for two years before graduate school, Bachman arranged financing for the homes built by the program, he said.

Richard Bachman, a Vallejo resident, was in San Diego making arrangements to bring his daughter's body home. A memorial service will be held in Cotati at a date to be determined, he said.

Anna Bachman is also survived by her mother and stepfather, Marsha and Andrew Kopral of Cotati.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.