A 34-year-old woman and mother of three died Monday morning after being pulled from the water at Stearns Wharf.
Chelsea Jeanne Curtis died in an apparent drowning, according to a statement from Lt. Paul McCaffrey, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
It’s unknown whether drugs or alcohol contributed to her death, but officials said there were no signs of physical trauma or foul play.
Curtis and a female companion were downtown at a nightclub, and Curtis stepped out for a cigarette about 12:30 a.m. When the nightclub closed at 2 a.m., Curtis’ friend went to look for her. She was no longer at the club, and the friend didn’t find Curtis at her downtown residence, where another friend was watching Curtis’ children.
About 4 a.m., a city maintenance crew was working on repairs to Stearns Wharf and noticed Curtis swimming on the east side of the wharf, about 100 yards from shore, between the wharf and the Ty Warner Sea Center. Curtis appeared to be fine with her head above the water, and the police statement said workers checked on her every half-hour.
When workers called out to Curtis and she didn’t respond, they called the Harbor Patrol to investigate. Worker Nick Negro noticed that Curtis’ head was submerged and dived into the water at 4:45 a.m., towing her to shore.
When police responded to the scene, fire officials and paramedics were treating the woman, who was breathing but in critical condition. She was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Detectives found her clothing lying neatly on the sand next to Stearns Wharf. Curtis’ core body temperature was at critically low levels and contributed to her death, according to the coroner’s office.