The victim who fell from a Del Playa Drive balcony Saturday night has been positively identified as 20-year-old Clint McDonnell.
McDonnell, a Santa Barbara City College student and a resident on the 6600 block of DP, was attending a party at 6681 DP when he died after falling close to 40 feet from the patio area to the beach below. The official cause of death was determined to be “saltwater drowning,” however he also suffered major head trauma, which, according to the coroner’s report, could also have been fatal.
Alison Conway, a junior business economics major, said she and UC San Diego student Melissa Green were dancing with McDonnell before he fell. Conway, who did not know McDonnell, said he was dancing close to the section of the fence where the bluff receded to the fence line. She added that McDonnell, who was found shirtless, was wearing a shirt at the time of the fall.
“We were dancing with him for about 30 seconds. It happened so fast, I can’t even remember what he looked like. I was facing him but not looking at him – all I saw was when his body went over the cliff,” she said. “I didn’t see if he tripped, or what he did or how he did it. I don’t know if he knew he was so close to the edge.”
Junior theatre major Angela Colombo said she immediately ran down to the beach when Conway and Green, with whom she came to the party, informed her of the fall.
“When I found out, I immediately ran down to the beach. Two guys were coming up, and they said no one was down there. I said, ‘Please, can we look,’ and we jumped into the water – because it was high tide at that point,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do, because we only had a key chain flashlight. We walked all the way down the beach, and when we got back to the platform that’s when the cops got there.”
Isla Vista Foot Patrol officers were able to locate McDonnell within approximately seven minutes from the time they received the call, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Burridge said.
“Two party-goers actually went down immediately after he fell,” he said. “They couldn’t find him because of the high surf, so they waited at the bottom of the stairs for the IVFP.”
Conway said approximately 20 people on the balcony at the time of the incident did not respond when she and Green informed them of the fall, and Green called 911 from the residence with the help of an unidentified female.
“When it happened, we were screaming at people, ‘Somebody fell off the cliff,’ and they were yelling at us, ‘You’re stupid girls, you don’t know what happened, you’re on drugs,’ … I know when I think about it, it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “The most frustrating part was seeing these people yelling at you and then [Green] was the one who ended up calling .”
Colombo said she was upset that very few people at the party responded to the accident.
“No one understood or believed [my friends] and for the most part kept on partying. It was really upsetting. Don’t get me wrong, there were a group of people that tried to do everything in their power to help him, but there was nothing they could do,” she said.
The results of a toxicology test intended to determine if the victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the fall will not be available for seven to 10 days.