Santa Barbara Police confirmed that highly followed Instagram personality and world traveler Lee MacMillan, 28, was hit and killed by a train last Friday by the intersection of State and Hollister roads in Noleta.
Police had issued an alert that week asking members of the public for any information on MacMillan’s disappearance, noting she had left her home without car, keys, wallet, or cell phone. Although there was no suicide note, police expressed concern that MacMillan’s death had been self-inflicted.
On December 5 last year, she discussed her struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts at some length on an Instagram video post. In the post, she linked her mental health struggles to putting her own needs last and those of others first.
From the outside, MacMillan’s life would have seemed one of adventure, health, beauty, freedom, and romance. Since 2016, MacMilllan had been an accomplished globe trotter, traveling from Canada — where she was born —to the tip of South America in a Dodge Sprinter with her then-boyfriend and fellow traveler, Max Bidstrup, and their Australian shepherd, Occy. Together they — Max & Lee — enjoyed a following of 495,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel.
They would announce the parting of their ways late in 2019, and in early 2020 MacMillan set out on a Sprinter Tour of Morocco with two other social-media-savvy road warriors. COVID, however, would bring that trek to an abrupt halt after three months, and starting about six months ago, MacMillan settled into Santa Barbara.
In the wake of MacMillan’s death, friends have expressed shock at her loss while praising her for coming out as a mental health advocate.
If you or someone you know is thinking about hurting themselves, call 9-1-1 or the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. A list of regional resources can be found at countyofsb.org/admhs.