SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS/AP) — A Bay Area mother of three died when she slipped over the edge of a waterfall near Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay on Friday.

The woman has been identified as 35-year-old Benicia resident Stephanie Espinosa. According to her brother Nick Martinez, she was reaching for a branch when she was swept over the waterfall.

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Initial reports said Espinosa died trying to take a selfie, but Martinez said she did not have her phone at the time.

Photo via North Tahoe Fire Protection District

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District said in a statement that Espinosa fell over Eagle Falls, where water cascades 150 feet down a rocky slope overlooking Emerald Bay.

Fire district spokeswoman Erin Holland said Saturday that witnesses reported Espinosa was too close to the edge. There was no guardrail blocking access to the area.

The district says her death is “a sad reminder to be cautious when taking selfies and other photos in dangerous areas.”

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Holland says very cold water feeding the waterfall is moving extremely fast because of snowmelt from record snowfall in the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.

A search and rescue team and dive team recovered Espinosa’s body shortly after deputies arrived on the scene.

A GoFundMe page at to raise money for Espinosa’s funeral and for her three children described her as someone who “gave everything for those she loved, she loved nature, being outdoors, and spending time with her kids.”

The page, which had raised nearly $4,400 as of Monday morning, noted that Eagle Falls was “a place she visited often and found serenity in.”


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© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Bay City News Service contributed to this report