The UCSB community suffered a loss this summer after student Nicole Injayan was killed in a jet ski crash last month.
Injayan, a 19-year-old business economics student from San Rafael, Calif., died from blunt chest and abdominal trauma sustained in the crash on Aug. 17 at Lake Berryessa in Napa Valley. A helicopter airlifted her to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa Valley, where she was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.
Sheriff’s Captain Gene Lyerla of Napa County said Injayan’s jet ski hit another watercraft that held three riders, flinging her into the water.
According to Lyerla, the two operators of the jet skis are currently under investigation for possible vehicular manslaughter charges. Lyerla said no drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.
“It was just folks with a pair of jet skis playing around,” Lyerla said. “That’s one of the primary collision causes of jet skis. People just don’t keep distance between them.”
Nicole’s father, Steven Injayan, said his daughter loved traveling, going to the beach and being with her friends, many of whom she had known since preschool. He described his daughter as friendly and energetic.
“She was a beautiful, fun-loving, extremely kind and compassionate person,” he said. “She was just a very outgoing and fearless girl and could just make friends at the drop of a hat.”
Brittany Crawshaw, a second-year student at the University of Southern California, said she was one of Nicole’s best friends and described her as “the life of the party,” someone who could always make everyone laugh.
“She was just an amazing friend and cared about us all so much,” Crawshaw said. “She just made everyday amazing and fun.”
Crawshaw, who has known Nicole Injayan since preschool, said her friend was named “Class Clown” at Marin Catholic High School.
“She was the funniest person I’ve ever met,” Crawshaw said. “She was so quirky and had the best laugh and smile.”
Her father said she had enjoyed her year at UCSB and had decided to attend the school after visiting her older brother – a graduate student on campus. Nicole’s father said she lived in Manzanita Village as a freshman last year.
“She had a wonderful time and I’m glad she had that experience,” Steven Injayan said. “She just loved the hell out of it.”
A memorial service was held in Marin County soon after her death. Her father said friends, former teachers and family packed the church.
“It was filled to overflowing,” Steven Injayan said. “It was a very emotional and inspirational service.”
Injayan said his daughter is missed greatly.
“She was the highlight of our life,” he said. “She left a hole that is not going to be filled.”