Personnel from the National Park Service and Santa Barbara and Ventura counties launched a search for Christopher Anthony Mondiek on Monday after he failed to return from an overnight trip to the island, said sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams said.
Mondiek’s vehicle was found in a Ventura Harbor parking lot, suggesting he was still on the island, Williams said.
A Ventura County sheriff’s helicopter was sent to the island Monday, and began the search, but was soon turned back due to stormy conditions, Williams said.
Mondiek’s remains were discovered by search-and-rescue crews at about 8 a.m. Tuesday on a beach below a steep cliff, Williams said.
“Investigators believe his death was caused by a fall from one of the cliffs,” Williams said.
Because Santa Cruz Island is in Santa Barbara County’s jurisdiction, a detective was sent down to the scene, Williams said.
Mondiek’s body was brought via boat to Ventura Harbor, where coroner’s detectives from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department took possession of it, Williams said.
The Coroner’s Office will handle the investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the death, Williams said, adding that initial information suggests the death was accidental.