Woman's body recovered from water off of Whidbey Island
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
July 31, 2010 · Updated 7:27 PM
The Island County coroner has identified the body of a woman who may have jumped off Deception Pass Bridge Friday night.
Coroner Robert Bishop said Saturday night that the woman was 40-year-old Jessica Van Pelt of Burlington. Bishop said he was "very confident" that Van Pelt, who doesn't have relatives on Whidbey Island, went into the water at Deception Pass. Bishop said investigators suspect suicide, though an autopsy hasn't been completed yet.
The Marine Safety Unit of the Island County Sheriff’s Office recovered Van Pelt's body in the water about a half mile off of Whidbey's West Beach at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Detective Ed Wallace with the sheriff’s office said that boaters in the area first saw the body and alerted the sheriff’s office.
Bishop said that Van Pelt was last seen at the bridge Friday night. Park rangers reported that a red Hyundai Elantra, which was later identified as Van Pelt's car, had been parked at the bridge parking lot on the Whidbey side since about 9 p.m. Friday.
Saturday afternoon, Wallace and Bishop searched the car before it was towed to a precinct office. Bishop said no note was found.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.