ISLA VISTA, Santa Barbara County (CBS SF) – A North Bay college student was found dead in the water at a Santa Barbara County beach following a large spring break party, according to authorities.
The Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office identified the student as 18-year-old Giselle Esme Ayala of Santa Rosa.
She graduated from Santa Rosa High School last year where she was enrolled in the ArtQuest program.
Ayala was a sociology major at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She was with a group of friends in the town of Isla Vista for a spring break party known as Deltopia, the sheriff’s office said.
Her body was found by a jogger at 8:20 a.m. Saturday in the water near the surf line west of Campus Point at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
The sheriff’s office had asked the public to help identify the thin, 5-foot, 8-inch woman who was wearing a purple sundress over a black tank top and black lace-up boots.
Ayala’s friends, who said they had not seen her since 11 p.m. Friday night, reported her missing at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Isla Vista Foot Patrol Office.
Sheriff’s investigators then confirmed Ayala was the deceased woman found on the beach, Hoover said.
The results of an autopsy Monday are pending toxicology tests that are expected to take four to six weeks, and Ayala’s death is still under investigation, Hoover said.
According to UC Santa Barbara, Deltopia is a remade version of a former annual spring break rite called Floatopia.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover said the crowd for the event was much larger than last year.
“There is definitely a lot of underage drinking and we arrested 23 people this year and also handed out 71 criminal citations,” Hoover said.
In 2010 and 2011, Isla Vista authorities closed down beaches during the weekend Floatopia was scheduled, following a massive 2009 event which brought high levels of water pollution, injuries, and citations. The Deltopia gathering on the streets of Isla Vista was formed as a result.
Humphrey and Jeffrey D. Armstrong, President of Cal Poly, expressed their condolences on behalf of the students to Ayala’s family.
Grief counselors were available on campus Sunday, Humphrey said.
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