Sheriff Releases Identity of Woman in Fatal Douglas Family Preserve Cliff Fall

Santa Barbara City Firefighters at Hendry's Beach responding to a fatal incident on October 3, 2023 (Photo: John Palminteri)

Update by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office
October 5, 2023

The Coroner’s Bureau is releasing the ID of the decedent who fell from a cliff near Arroyo Burro beach in Santa Barbara on Tuesday, October 3, 2023.

Decedent is 57-year-old Micki Tara Hegewald of Santa Barbara.

Cause and manner of death are pending.

By the Santa Barbara Police Department
October 4, 2023

On October 3, 2023, at 6:52 p.m., Santa Barbara Police Officers, Santa Barbara Fire Department, and Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol responded to the area of Hendry’s Beach for an initial report of an adult woman falling from the Douglas Family Preserve cliff above the beach.

Upon arrival, medical professionals pronounced the woman deceased on the beach.

At this time, there is no suspicious activity believed, and the case is currently under investigation.

The name of the decedent is being withheld pending next of kin notification.


Written by SBPDPIO

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  1. While I’ve attended a couple small “parties” there in my youth, I’ve also heard of many people falling off the cliff here over the years that were sober and even during the day. Would a short fence work here? Dogs fall off at Wilcox frequently as well. Maybe some smallish barrier would stop them from skirting the edge? I’d hate to fence in all our cliffs though. Sad either way.

  2. Yeah, granted, but at some point, someone is going to demand one. It’s tough to just say, sorry, we’re not putting up any man made fall prevention devices after a tragedy like this, but in all reality, we can’t just fence in all our cliffs. Again, tough situation and sadly, it won’t be the last.

  3. Michael, I’m very sorry to hear about what she went through but do appreciate you sharing. Depression is an ugly beast that people don’t understand unless they have experienced it firsthand. We do not all win the battle and it sounds like her battle with it was long and complex. You are a wonderful brother and I hope that you can find solace in knowing that you were there for her. Wishing you peace in your heart as you grieve for your loss.

  4. Thanksgiving Miracles & Blessings… (by Micki’s brother Michael Hegewald)

    Yesterday around sunset I am sitting at the dining room table, soldering an electronics project, when I see motion in my peripheral vision. I look over & there are two people coming in the front gate… a young couple I have see many times, who recently moved on to the block, six houses down, but I have never met them.

    She is holding a small box with a bow tied around it; he has a wrapped bunch of flowers. I thought for sure that they had heard of Micki’s death, probably from a neighbor, & were just coming by to give their condolences. I opened the front door, turned off my headlight, & meet them at the gate. They asked if I was Michael, I said yes & invited them inside the house.

    They sat down in the living room & introduced themselves, Jenny & Tom. I put the flowers in water & shared the box of chocolates they brought. They said they both were hospital nurses. Jenny said she had more info on Micki’s death. I thought for sure I knew who she was… I asked her if she was the one Micki last looked at, before she calmly walked off the cliff. I thought for sure she was the woman who gave the eye-witness account at the top of the cliff, to the police detective we spoke with, the day after Micki died… but NO that was not her. Then Jenny & Tom looked slightly confused at each other & said “No, we were not at the top… we were at the bottom.” !!!

    Tom said they were walking their golden retriever at sunset along the beach, when they heard rocks falling from the cliff above, about 20 feet away from them. Then they saw Micki falling down & hit the ground !!! They immediately went to Micki & checked her pulse & tried to help. She was not moving or breathing. They felt no pulse & called 911. Just behind them was a man walking his dog. It turns out, he was an off-duty paramedic, who then started CPR on Micki. Then Fire Department paramedics arrived quickly, & tried for 30 minutes, but could not revive her… sadly but gladly, thank God they could not revive her, because she probably would have physically suffered greatly for the rest of her life… Tom & Jenny told me, they felt she died quickly.

    So many miracles, after miracles…

    They found out I was related to Micki, from Steve, who is another neighbor, who lives across from Jenny & Tom (they read the article I wrote & 1st gave Steve 2 days after Micki died. I asked him to please share this with others…) Thank God he shared it with them.

    They both told me how they were almost in shock for many days, disturbed by the event & they really wanted some closure. Reading “My Response to Micki’s Suicide” in the newspaper, made them feel so much better for Micki, for Me & our family… but they still needed to meet & talk with me… They were very hesitant to come see Me, to find the “right time” to tell me their story, because they didn’t want to disturb me. Thank God they did.

    So many miracles, after miracles…

    So many “angels” living all around us. “It takes a Village”… & our village of Santa Barbara is AWESOME. No one or place is perfect… but “we” served Micki in Life… lifting Her up & keeping Her close… & “we” served Her in Death… … lifting Her up & keeping Her close…

    & she did the same to “us”.

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