The body discovered Tuesday morning on Santa Cruz Island has been identified as 23-year-old Christopher Mondiek from Ohio. According to Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Mark Williams, officials think Mondiek accidentally fell from a steep cliff above the beach where he was found. “The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office will handle the investigation as Coroner detectives determine the exact circumstances of the death,” Williams explained in a prepared statement.
On Monday, a private boating company out of Ventura Harbor notified the National Park Service that Mondiek had not returned from an overnight camping trip and that his car was still parked in the harbor lot, said Williams. A Ventura County Sheriff’s helicopter flew to the island Monday and started a search but had to turn back because of bad weather. Search and rescue teams returned Tuesday and made the discovery.
[ORIGINAL REPORT]: Search and rescue teams from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties discovered a body on a Santa Cruz Island beach just after 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The body is being transported to Ventura Harbor by boat, and a member of the Santa Barbara Coroner’s Office is heading south to help with the identification process. S.B. Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Sgt. Mark Williams explained the investigation is in its very early stages, and no other details are being released at this point.
Search and rescue crews were recently dispatched to the island to look for a camper reported missing by the U.S. National Park Service. Sources say the camper was dropped off on the island Saturday but didn’t arrive for a coordinated pickup Sunday. Williams, however, stressed that until a positive identification is made, no concrete connection can be established between the missing person report and the discovered body.