Family seeks help returning daughter to Canada after deadly Moonlight Beach fall

Amber Victoria Bolibruck, 26
(Courtesy of Michelle Belleau)

Amber Bolibruck, a 26-year-old Canadian, fell down a cliff June 3 at Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas; she died June 8 at a La Jolla hospital


Amber Victoria Bolibruck was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, near Niagara Falls, but had spent her adult life traveling the world, including South America and Asia. She also spent stints living in Alberta, Canada, and Australia.

Amber Victoria Bolibruck
(Courtesy of Michelle Belleau)

Bolibruck’s most recent move had brought the adventurous, fun-loving 26-year-old to the San Diego area in February, just a month before the coronavirus pandemic.

But in the early morning hours of June 3, Bolibruck was found unconscious at the foot of a bluff along Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, with blood on her face and labored breathing, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office. Authorities believe she fell down the roughly 30-foot cliff.

Medics took her to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where her condition steadily declined until she died June 8, the Medical Examiner’s Office said.

“Amber was always the brightest, happiest and most uplifting person in the room,” her cousin, Michelle Belleau, wrote in an email this week. “She didn’t care about people’s differences, she treated everyone equally and wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time. It was easy for her to bring everyone together. She craved adventure and new experiences. She did more in her short life than many accomplish in a standard lifetime.”

Belleau said Bolibruck was an organ donor, and in death helped save two lives.

“Just like her living self, she was generous in her passing,” Belleau said.

According to authorities, Bolibruck lived in Carlsbad, and was out with friends June 2 when she argued with her boyfriend and left the group. Hours later, she was found injured on the beach.

Belleau said her cousin jumped a barrier along the top of the cliffs and suffered a “massive brain injury” as a result of the fall. A memorial banner now hangs on that barrier, with the last line a warning to others: “Be smart, be safe, don’t jump the barrier!”

“Everyone experiencing this tragic and devastating loss wishes that someone else may learn from this and keep themselves safe,” Belleau wrote.

This banner hangs above Moonlight Beach. Bolibruck apparently jumped over this barrier before suffering a fatal fall June 3.
This banner hangs above Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Amber Bolibruck apparently jumped over this barrier before suffering a fatal fall June 3.
(Courtesy of Michelle Belleau)

Like everything else since March, COVID-19 complicated the last days of Bolibruck’s life, and her family’s quest to take her body back to Canada.

First, her parents had to get permission to cross the U.S-Canadian border under restrictions that ban all nonessential border crossings. When they flew to San Diego, they were unable to be by their daughter’s bedside because of COVID-19 concerns in hospitals.

“The worst part of this happening during a pandemic is that you could fill a stadium for her with all the friends and family she had from all corners of the globe,” Belleau said. “We hope that soon enough our (COVID) restrictions will be lifted so we can all grieve together.”

In the meantime, Bolibruck’s family is facing financial challenges. The cost of returning her body to Canada is expensive, as are the medical bills she incurred. Bolibruck, who grew up in a country with publicly funded, universal healthcare, was uninsured in the U.S.

“Her family will now have to face not only coming home without their daughter, but large medical bills also,” her cousin wrote.

Friends have set up GoFundMe and Facebook donation pages to help the family cope with the costs.

“The people that love Amber are doing everything we can but we need more help, our family needs this help,” Belleau said. “My aunt and uncle need this help so they can begin to heal without this crippling debt.”

-- Alex Riggins is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune