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One Dies, One Injured in Isla Vista Fall

Melissa Portillo, 22, Killed and Michael Kuster, 22, Badly Hurt After Falling from Balcony


A UCSB student died early Thanksgiving morning after apparently falling from an apartment balcony in Isla Vista. Also involved in the fall was her friend, a male SBCC student who was taken to the hospital, where he remains in stable condition.

When deputies arrived at the residence on the 6500 block of Cordoba Road just before 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, UCSB student Melissa Portillo, 22 years old and originally from Los Angeles, was unresponsive due to blunt trauma to the head. Nearby was 22-year-old Michel A.J.H. Kuster, who was responsive but suffering from injuries to his head and back. The two were rushed to Cottage Hospital, where Portillo was pronounced dead not long after.

According to Sgt. Mark Williams of the sheriff’s department, the initial investigation showed the incident to be an accident. Both Portillo and Kuster, Williams said, appear to have fallen over a second-story railing at the top of stairs on the outside of the apartment. He said alcohol may have been a factor, but foul play was not suspected.

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