WESTWOOD—UCLA graduate acting student Kendra Perez, 26, drowned on Sunday, June 18 while crossing a stream in Sequoia National Park, according to the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television’s Alumni Affairs newsletter.
The incident occurred when Perez fell into Silliman Creek while walking along Twin Lakes Trail, according to Teresa Douglass, a spokesperson for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, acting public affairs officer for Sequoia National Park, indicated Perez was swept downstream and got trapped by rocks and branches. Rescue teams had to wait a full day to retrieve the body due to the dangerous conditions of the stream.
Sequoia National Park did not collect the victim’s name at the time the body was retrieved, but Douglass confirmed in an email statement that the woman who drowned was Perez.
Professors and students remembered Perez for her enthusiasm and kindness.
“She was always very eager, but at the same time … not just blindly following whatever you suggest as a teacher,” Marike Splint, an assistant professor in the department of theater, informed The Daily Bruin. “She would always add her interpretation. She was always there and in the moment and always committed and engaged.”
Perez and her fellow students ventured into communities in the California desert that lack running water. Utilizing inspiration from the communities, Perez wrote and created the role of a Mexican immigrant woman and acted in the scene completely in Spanish, utilizing her Mexican heritage for the play.
“It showed her talent for finding humanity in stories and also approaching stories with a very personal point of view,” Splint told The Daily Bruin.