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A California public defender died mysteriously in Mexico—his family wants answers

A photo from the GoFundMe page for Elliot Blair, who died on Jan. 14 in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, while on his first wedding anniversary with his wife

The mysterious death of a California lawyer vacationing with his wife of one year at a beach resort just south of Tijuana is raising hackles on both sides of the border.

Elliot Blair died on Jan. 14 at Las Rocas Hotel. Mexican authorities claim he was drunk and shooing away pigeons when he fell to his death from a third-floor balcony, according to the Orange County Register.

But a GoFundMe page created by relatives of Blair questions the official narrative and alleges his death was more than an accident. 

“Elliot was tragically killed,” the campaign page states. “We wish we could provide everyone with more information, but very limited information has been disclosed by authorities in Mexico. He was the victim of a brutal crime.”

Blair’s family is working with U.S. officials to try and get more information. 

Donations poured in from across the state, including from individual public defenders, the Contra Costa District Attorney Association and various other attorney organizations and firms. The campaign had raised about $114,000 as of Friday afternoon, and the proceeds will go to Blair’s wife, Kimberly Williams.

The couple, both of whom are deputy public defenders in Orange County and had visited the resort before, were celebrating their first wedding anniversary when tragedy struck, according to the crowdfunding campaign.

“I can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Baja California in Mexico,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price this week. “Out of respect for the privacy of the family, I just wouldn’t be in a position to comment any further.” 

Though local authorities are in charge of the investigation, Price said the U.S. State Department is ready to offer any support. 

Neither the Las Rocas Hotel nor the Baja governor’s office returned calls for comment.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at