Beloved UCSB Student Passes Abruptly

Cause of Death Still Unknown; Toxicology Report Pending

Admired by her friends and family, UCSB sophomore Sara Tahmassebi passed away suddenly in her Isla Vista apartment this past Saturday. She was 20 years old.

A well-liked student and member of the Alpha Phi sorority, Tahmassebi is survived by her parents, older sister, and younger brother. The cause of death is still unknown, pending a toxicology report.

Maane Khatchatourian

Sara Tahmassebi

On the afternoon of March 9, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) was called to the 6600 block of Trigo Road in Isla Vista after a friend discovered Tahmassebi’s body. An investigation of the case is currently underway and the IVFP has confirmed that foul play was not a factor in the incident.

Tahmassebi’s roommate Kevin Darranti said he would always remember her as a light-hearted person, capable of bringing joy to everyone around her. “She always made me laugh,” Darranti said. “She had a great personality and always smiled whenever you saw her. I’d come home from school and be down about my day, and she’d just smile and I’d feel that much better : She always made everyone around her happier.”

Tahmassebi’s parents hosted a candlelight vigil yesterday, celebrating their daughter’s life with her friends, sorority sisters, and community members who were touched by her tragic passing. Held on Del Playa Beach, mourners held candles and roses, and collectively wrote down their favorite memories or thoughts about Tahmassebi. Cyrus Mostashari, a fellow student and neighbor of Tahmassebi, said he will remember her as a loving friend, eager to live her life to its fullest. “Every time she poked her head through our door, we all felt her amazing energy and passion for a good time,” Mostashari said. “Sara was one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met. She was special in every which way - her outlook on life, the way she spoke, [the way she] carried herself, and [her] mannerism were all so unique to her.”

Although a date has yet to be set for the memorial service, the Tahmassebi family plans to hold a service either this upcoming weekend or sometime next week. Mostashari said Tahmassebi’s thoughtfulness for her peers truly defined her character. “One of her favorite things was to make food and share it with the neighbors. I miss her cooking so much,” he said. “The most important thing she taught me was to live in the moment, as if every day is your last. I am never going to forget that, and how amazing she was.”

Benjamin Gottlieb is an Independent intern.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Alvarado and Ford File for School Board

Mark M. Alvarado and Kate Ford registered to run for the Santa Barbara Unified school board.

Thousands Received DACA Relief After Lawsuits Filed

Renewal applications have totaled 117,446 since program suspension was overturned.

Bank Robbery Suspect Kills Self in Bathroom

[Update] The suspect in the Goleta Rabobank robbery has been identified as Keith David Goodwin, believed to ...

News-Press’ Found to Owe Union and Employees $2.2 Million

National Labor Relations Board puts money amount on employee losses since 2006.

Fire Starts Just West of Buellton

[Update] Vegetation fire starts on the 1000 block of Highway 246; Bobcat Springs on evacuation warning.