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Mount Tamalpais Deaths: Marin Coroner Rules Two Women Died in Accidents

| June 20, 2014
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Mount Tamalpais, seen from Mill Valley at sunset (Grace Rubenstein/KQED)

Mount Tamalpais, seen from Mill Valley at sunset (Grace Rubenstein/KQED)

Just to close the loop on a story on which we know there’s been a lot of public interest but didn’t get to earlier in the week: the Marin County coroner has ruled that two women found dead on Mount Tamalpais within five days of each other in April both died accidentally.

Magdalena Glinkowski, a 33-year-old resident of Menlo Park, was found April 12 after failing to return from a hike on Mount Tam. Marie Sanner, 50, of Mill Valley, was found April 17 &mdashp; again after failing to return from a solo outing on the mountain. The disappearances and the fact Glinkowski and Sanner were found just a mile apart prompted fears that the women might have been victims of a serial killer.

But the Marin coroner says there was no apparent connection between the deaths. Glinkowski, who had been a Silicon Valley software developer, had apparently driven to Mount Tam in a rented car on March 30. Although the vehicle was found near the Pantoll campground, no one realized she was missing for several days. Initial searches were fruitless. It wasn’t until a runner who had seen Glinkowski on the mountain came forward that rangers found her body near a remote trail. Police said at the time there was no obvious sign of trauma on her body.

This week’s coroner’s report ruled that Glinkowski died of “environmental exposure with hypothermia” and comments:

Information developed during the investigation into Ms. Glinkowski’s death revealed the absence of significant physical injuries to her person or toxicological factors that led to her death. The investigation revealed Ms. Glinkowski was unfamiliar with the area and unprepared for a prolonged or individual hike. Nothing was developed during the investigation to conclude foul play was a factor in the death.

Unlike Glinkowski, authorities relatively quickly realized Sanner was missing. Sanner, who was a kindergarten teacher in Oakland, reportedly drove up Mount Tam the evening of April 16 to go on a hike with her German shepherd. She was reported missing early the afternoon of April 17 and was found off the side of a trail near a creek a few hours later.

The Marin coroner found that Sanner died of “blunt impact injuries to the head.” The report also comments:

Information developed during the investigation into Ms. Sanner’s death revealed a blunt impact injury to her head related to her off trail fall. The investigation revealed a combination of factors, such as a lack of ambient light, her unfamiliarity with the trail, lack of lighting for night hiking and the presence of alcohol (.12 BAC) which were considered in concluding the investigation. Nothing was developed during the investigation to conclude foul play was a factor in the death.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
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