A UC Santa Barbara student died after falling from the balcony of an Isla Vista apartment early on Thanksgiving Day. Authorities say a second victim also fell but his injuries are not life-threatening.
According to Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams, deputies were dispatched to the 6500 block of Cordoba Road just before 1 a.m. Thursday to investigate a report that two people had fallen from an apartment balcony. Williams said one of the victims, a woman, was found to have suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and was unresponsive while the second victim was complaining of pain in his head and back.
Williams said deputies immediately administered first aid until paramedics arrived and transported the victims to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
The woman — identified as Mellissa Portillo, a 22-year-old student from Los Angeles — was pronounced dead by hospital staff, Williams said.
The second victim, Michael A.J.H. Kuster, also 22, was hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
Williams said the initial investigation determined that the incident appeared to be accidental, with Portillo and Kuster falling over a second-story stair railing at the apartment complex. Alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, he said, but foul play is not suspected.