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Santa Barbara Coroner’s Office Releases Reports on Deaths of 2 High School Seniors

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office finished its investigations into the deaths of two local high school seniors and determined one was an accident and one was a suicide.

Santa Barbara High School senior Connor O’Keefe, 18, was fatally struck by an Amtrak train on March 11 in the area of Fernald Point in Montecito, and investigators ruled his death an accident.

Investigators determined O’Keefe had been spending time with friends at a nearby beach and then left to get his camera out of a friend’s car, according to information from sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

O’Keefe was walking next to the tracks while talking on his cell phone, and did not respond when a train traveling 50 mph rounded a bend and used its horns, whistles and braking system, Hoover said.

He was hit from behind and declared dead at the scene.

Coroner’s Office investigators talked to family and friends, witnesses, and examined surveillance videos and toxicology lab results before coming to the conclusion that O’Keefe’s death was an accident, Hoover said.

Friends, family and community members packed the Marjorie Luke Theatre for a memorial for O’Keefe, and SBHS students also worked on a chalk art tribute to him at the I Madonnari festival.

Carpinteria High School senior Filiberto Hernandez, 18, known as Fili, was found dead on the beach below the Carpinteria Bluffs from an apparent cliff fall on March 13 and the Coroner’s Office determined the death was a suicide, according to Hoover.

His family had reported him missing and possibly suicidal the day before he was found, she said.

Coroner’s Office personnel determined the cause of death was from “drowning due to blunt force injuries he sustained due to a jump from a height,” according to Hoover.  

Sheriff’s personnel talked to family and friends, and examined toxicology and other lab results during the investigation.

Shortly after the news of his death spread through the Carpinteria community, hundreds of people gathered at the high school campus for a candlelight vigil in his memory.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family with funeral expenses, and as of Thursday, had raised $11,131.  

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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