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In a coroner’s report provided to the Daily Nexus through a Public Records Act request, an autopsy revealed that former second-year double major in philosophy and language Sierra Markee-Winkler sustained injuries consistent with falling from a cliff, such as a broken neck, on May 4, 2014, the night she died.
Although the report concludes that ultimate cause of death was “asphyxia … due to: drowning,” additional injuries such as “complications of cervical vertebral fracture” and “blunt force injury of neck” suggest that Markee-Winkler fell from the cliff at Sea Lookout Park at the intersection of Del Playa Drive and Camino Corto, suffered from a broken neck, then drowned.
According to the report, Markee-Winkler’s mother Siobhan Markee stated that she last spoke to her daughter on May 2, and that Markee-Winkler was in “good spirits having passed her midterms” and that she was going to start preparing for the LSAT’s. Markee was “adamant the decedent was not suicidal” and that Markee-Winkler “had never attempted suicide or spoke of it,” the report said.
A toxicology report revealed that Markee-Winkler was intoxicated the night of her death, with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.25 and with trace amounts of THC in her system.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover, the SB County Sheriff’s Office hopes to see additional signage and permanent fencing installed where there is currently temporary fencing along Sea Lookout Park and other locations.
Hoover also said alcohol consumption is involved in many cliff falls and thus education about cliff dangers is important for Isla Vista community members.
“The best preventative method is to be aware,” Hoover said, “being able to take care of yourself and being careful when you’re out on the cliffs.”
According to Markee-Winkler’s cousin Melissa Markee, Markee-Winkler’s family sees it important the I.V. community mobilizes to put fences along I.V. ocean bluffs to prevent future cliff falls.
“If adequate safety measures had been taken after other falls, Sierra would still be here,” Markee said. “Our family will never let anyone forget [what] we lost … and her memory will live forever.”
Photo courtesy of Facebook.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.