A 20-year-old Ventura woman died early Sunday morning after attending the Lightning in a Bottle music festival at Lake San Antonio.
Baylee Gatlin, a Ventura College student, was taken to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton at 2:12 a.m. Sunday, according to hospital spokesman Ron Yukelson. She was pronounced dead at 3:42 a.m.
The cause of her death is currently unknown.
A call to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office was not returned on Monday. Gatlin’s family told The Tribune that her body is being held at a mortuary in Morro Bay awaiting an autopsy. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the identity of the woman on Monday and said the autopsy is planned for Wednesday.
According to Lightning in a Bottle’s website, medical teams are available 24 hours a day at the three-day event, which is now in its fourth year. About 25,000 people turned out this year for the event that features music on several stages and art installations, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said in a post on Facebook.
Gatlin’s family described her as a goal-oriented, positive person, a hard worker with a “beautiful smile” who wanted to travel and was preparing to transfer to Cal Poly. Gatlin had gone to Lightning in a Bottle last year and it was a “life-changing event for her,” said her cousin, Jamee Ybarra.
“She came back more calm, realizing more about her goals and what she wanted to do,” Ybarra said. “It put a lot of good perspective in her head, and she’d been planning it (this year’s festival) since last year.”
Ybarra said that the family still isn’t sure of the exact circumstances surrounding Gatlin’s death, but Ari DeChellis, Gatlin’s aunt, said Gatlin’s death “could have been prevented.”
“They could have had medical services for her, and they didn’t. And they could have had sensible people working in what was supposed to be the triage or medical and apparently they didn’t,” DeChellis said. She did not elaborate further.
The music festival organizers released the following statement in regard to Gatlin’s death: “Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the woman who passed away at Twin Cities Hospital after attending Lightning in a Bottle this weekend. We ask that the LiB community keep her and her family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
DeChellis and Ybarra both described Gatlin as a loving and caring woman.
“Her friends and family adored her. If you needed something, Baylee was always there,” Ybarra said. “I don’t think she ever really got mad at anybody, she’s just not that person.”
“She was a darn hard, hard worker,” DeChellis said, adding that Gatlin had worked at Aloha Steakhouse in Ventura for more than five years and was always submitting her artwork to the Ventura County Fair. “She was a dedicated person. She was dedicated to bring people love and share positive thinking. She was just a ray of sunshine.”
“We’re broken,” DeChellis said. “Baylee was like a central force for many family members. She was strong and beautiful, and she was the future of this family and her life was cut short.”
DeChellis said that anyone with information about Gatlin’s death should contact Detective Rory Linn at 805-781-4514.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled DeChellis’ last name.