How Did Stephanie Espinosa Fall To Her Death? New Details On Her Fall In Lake Tahoe

Photo: GoFundMe
How Did Stephanie Espinosa Fall To Her Death? New Details On Her Fall In Lake Tahoe

A California woman has died after falling over a waterfall in North Lake Tahoe last week. Stephanie Espinosa, a 35-year-old mother of three, was hiking in the area when she slipped and fell over the edge. She fell  over 150 feet and was swept into the falls. She did not survive. Due to heavy snow melt in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the waterfalls are especially fast moving this spring. Local officials warn visitors to be cautious when enjoying the area. Meanwhile, Espinosa’s family is grappling with her sudden death and how to go on without her. Who was Stephanie Espinosa? Read on for all the details.

1. Accident

CBS news reported that Espinosa was at Eagle Falls near North Lake Tahoe California on Friday. She was standing close to a drop off near the falls and reached for a branch. According to witnesses, she lost her balance at that time and fell over the edge into the falls. The 150 foot fall into the water fall was fatal. There was no guardrail in that area and fire department officials say the waterfalls are moving unusually fast right now, because of melting snow from record snowfall in the mountains nearby.

She fell over 150 feet.

2. Caution warning

After the tragedy, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District posted pictures of the area where Espinosa fell, and included the line: "this is a sad reminder to be cautious when taking selfies and other photos in dangerous areas.” But all reports say that Espinosa wasn’t taking a selfie at all, she was simply enjoying the outdoors and lost her balance. They have since posted a warning about the area saying: “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.”

Local authorities urge caution in the area.

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3. Living in the moment

Espinosa’s brother, Nick Martinez says that what happened wasn’t an issue of carelessness at all. It was simply the way Espinosa lived her life, he told CBS:  “Stephanie didn’t even have her phone on her when she fell. She was trying to enjoy the moment which is something she was a big advocate of.” Martinez is hurt by the way the media has characterized his sister’s death and he wants to clear up the misconceptions, saying: “The whole reason why I'm doing this with you guys is to clear up the articles, they were really disturbing. It really made Stephanie sound like she was a young girl who was just trying to take a selfie and fell off a cliff.” 

Espinosa loved nature.

4. Mother

Espinosa leaves behind three children of her own. On the GoFundMe page her brother has set up he writes: “She is survived by her three children Junior, Ruben and Marissa, Mother Rachell, younger brothers Nicholas and Alex, and four younger sisters, Gloria, Vicky, Ana and Sandra. She was a mother figure to all her siblings and was raising one of her youngest sisters as she had done with several other siblings.”

Eagle Falls was her favorite place.

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5. Family oriented

Martinez says that his sister cared about family above all else. He writes about her commitment to their family on the GoFundMe page, saying: “She was the core of her family, the eldest sister, the strong, centered one that would always bring people together, she valued that more than anything. Stephanie had an energy about her, always positive, optimistic, appreciative and caring, a free spirit. She would light up any room she walked into. She gave everything for those that she loved, she loved nature, being in the outdoors and spending time with her kids. Her children were her world and we want to try and give them everything that she would have.” In his interview with CBS, he recalled that “When I go back to my furthest memory in life, it's with her. She is my older sister but has been more of a mother to me.”

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She raised her siblings as well as her own children.

6. Well liked

The comments on the GoFundMe page show that Espinosa’s influence extended outside her family as well. Former co-workers wrote glowing stories about her, saying: “She was a beautiful person! Inside and out. A wonderful instructor at the beauty school I went to. I’m so sorry for your loss. May she rest in love and watch over those she loved the most.” Another person wrote, “I worked with her at Marie Callender’s, and I’m SORRY to learn that she’s gone! She was a really nice person to be around.”

People who knew her are devastated.

Her family is asking for prayers during this difficult time.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.