A California woman died on Friday after getting swept over a waterfall in Lake Tahoe, authorities said.
Stephanie Espinosa, 35, was sitting in a natural pool close to Eagle Falls when she slipped while reaching for a tree branch. She was then “swept away in the very fast moving waters over the waterfall,” according to a statement from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Espinosa was already dead when they found her. California State Parks is conducting an investigation.
The North Tahoe Fire Protection District originally wrote on Facebook that Espinosa lost her footing while taking photographs by the waterfall. The fire district cautioned against “taking selfies and other photos in dangerous areas.”
But her brother, Nick Martinez, told CBS13 Sacramento that Espinosa was not taking photos and did not have her phone with her when she fell. He said Espinosa was “just trying to enjoy the moment, which is something she was a big advocate of.”
The fire district has since updated its post on Espinosa, who is from the Bay Area and has two teenage children, with a clarification:
Every year, there are deaths on our waterways and in our back country. Our message is to help visitors understand the dangers inherent to our beautiful region, and especially after this record winter, our creeks, rivers, waterfalls and lake carry many dangers that visitors need to be aware of. Our only hope is that this tragic accident will help others to take heed and use extreme caution when they are recreating in the area.
Espinosa’s family has set up a fundraiser to offset funeral costs and help her children.