A little over a week ago, Kayla Hallee passed away. She was a vivacious and adventurous 20-year old about to enter her junior year at UCSC to continue her course in environmental studies. On August 27, her body was found off the coast of Santa Barbara, a mile away from an orange kayak.
Although the cause of her death still remains unknown, coroners are not calling the death suspicious and no evidence of trauma was found.
What’s particularly strange about this tragic loss is that local news media have utterly failed in reporting it. In fact, most of her friends at UCSC probably heard of her death through Facebook. Though the story broke fairly big right away, being reported on the CBS local news in L.A., Hallee’s connection to UCSC went unreported for days. Even the small item in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, picked up from the Associated Press, didn’t mention it.
It was a lesson in how media outlets cannibalize each other, as the initial reports from SoCal news sources identified her only as a graduate of Mission Viejo High School, and subsequent write-ups (including the one in the Sentinel) simply copied that. In fact, it wasn’t until a day after Santa Cruz Weekly called inquiring about Hallee that UCSC issued a statement about her death.
To those who knew her on campus, Hallee’s smiling face will never be forgotten. As a member of the campus’s Kayak Club and Women’s Club Soccer, she wasn’t just a student who “attended” UCSC, but one of those rare people who was a living, breathing embodiment of its very message— “let there be light.”
She is remembered as warm and outgoing, and a true lover of the outdoors—striving to be in nature at least once a day.
Perhaps her July 2012 Facebook status post, quoting a line from “The Prophet,” says it best: “Only another breath will I breathe in this still air, only another loving look cast backward…Only another winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade, And then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.”