Del Playa Drive’s cliffs claimed their first victim in over two years early Saturday morning.
Robert Caraval, a 25-year-old resident of San JosŽ and former UCSB student fell over 80 feet and landed in the ocean below the 6600 block of DP. Witnesses on the balcony above called 911. Rescue workers administered CPR to Caraval on the beach and took him to Cottage Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sergeant Eric Rainey said Caraval was apparently crawling along the cliff on the outside of the fence when he fell. The coroner determined the cause of death to be a ruptured spleen.
Justin Evenson, senior political science major and resident of the apartment complex where Caraval fell, said other residents of the complex had seen Caraval climbing along the fence before he fell.
“Apparently he was climbing back and forth along the cliff going from party to party,” Evenson said. “I don’t know what he thought he was doing, it’s pretty rugged down there. We weren’t even having a party.”
A county ordinance passed in September 2001 and put into effect in April 2002 mandates that ocean side houses must have at least three-foot-high fences on both balcony and ground-level patios. The ordinance was passed in response to the deaths of Santa Barbara City College students Clint McDonnell, who fell off the cliff in March 2001, and Timothy Baptista, who suffered serious brain injuries after falling from the cliff in May 2001 and was later taken off life support. Both locations had fences at the time.
“There’s no state law on ground-level protection, only for balconies, so we asked them to write an ordinance to require fences at ground level,” Mark Chaconas, 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall’s assistant, said. “We found in the assessment that a number of the fences are in need of repair, they had gaps in them. Now, the property has to be fenced off in its entirety.”
Since the passing of the ordinance, two people have fallen from the cliffs and lived to tell the tale. UCSB economics major Jeffrey Cronin suffered a head injury and two broken legs when he fell off the cliff in November of 2001. Nico Macias, a student at UC Santa Cruz, fell off the cliff and broke his arm on May 24 of this year. Caraval is the first to die from falling down the cliff since the ordinance has been in place.
“One of my biggest concerns is that the county will get involved again and make the fences eight feet tall and block everyone’s view,” Evenson said.
Police said they believe Caraval was in Isla Vista for a friend’s graduation next weekend. A funeral service is scheduled for Friday in Santa Clara.