Women's death deemed accidental
by Peter Burke
Feb 07, 2013 | 1156 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The body of a 26-year-old woman was found submerged in the San Lorenzo River behind Highlands Park in Ben Lomond on Monday, Feb. 4, likely the victim of an accidental drowning.

A search-and-rescue team from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office found the body of Guadalupe Cortes, a Soquel resident, at about 3:30 p.m., hours after she was reported missing by an acquaintance.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson said Tuesday, Feb. 5, that the Sheriff Coroner’s Division determined the cause of death to be accidental due to drowning. Hypothermia also contributed to her death, according to the coroner’s office.

The river water temperature is typically in the high 40s during winter and the weather was cool and clear on Sunday.  

According to sheriff’s office spokeswoman April Skalland, Cortes had been swimming in the river with two men Sunday, Feb. 3. She was last seen at 12:30 p.m.

Skalland declined to release any information about the men, except to say they were acquaintances of Cortes.

At 9 a.m. Monday, one of the two men called the sheriff’s office to report Cortes missing.

More than 15 search-and-rescue staff members and volunteers combed the waters and banks of the San Lorenzo River, finding Cortes submerged about an eighth of a mile from Highlands Park Senior Center, 8500 Highway 9.  

A green 1996 Jeep belonging to Cortes was found in the Highlands Park parking lot on Monday afternoon. 

On Tuesday, the coroner performed a medical examination and identified Cortes by her fingerprints.

Skalland announced that sheriff’s detectives are still investigating Cortes’ death. As of Wednesday afternoon, the investigation had found no evidence to suggest that her death was not an accident. 

Anyone with information about the matter can call the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office investigations division at 831-454-2311.

Cortes was an employee of New Leaf Market, 1101 Fair Ave., in Santa Cruz.

To comment, email editor Peter Burke at peter@pressbanner.com, call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.

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