Possible suicide victim found in Corral Canyon

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On Corral Canyon, about five miles north of PCH, in the same dead-end parking lot at the entrance to the state park where two adult surfers committed suicide a few months ago, a young man, about 17 years old, not yet identified, apparently committed suicide by carbon monoxide. His body was found at about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday by two local bike riders.

They saw a small, bluish Honda Accord LXI, probably 1996 or 1997, with an L.A. Lakers license plate frame, parked in the large, unpaved parking lot, with the motor running and no other vehicles around. They noticed one end of a small, green hose on the ground near the automobile tailpipe, where it had apparently fallen out, with the other end of the pipe leading into the right, front passenger window of the automobile. From a distance, they could see no one in the car.

They approached and then saw the occupant seated in the front driver’s seat, which had been lowered as far back as it could go, motionless, with his eyes open, but with no apparent look of distress on his face, and his arms crossed over his chest. He had a cast on one arm, from wrist to elbow, and there were some small drawings and signatures on the cast. There was what looked like a small folded note on the dashboard, as well as a small case that could have been an eyeglass case or a small cell phone. The young man was described as having blond hair, perhaps bleached or sun streaked, cut very short, and dressed in shorts and a T-shirt.

One of the two witnesses to the scene, Dr. Priscilla MacRae, who lives in Corral Canyon and who, along with her husband, Holden, teaches sports medicine at Pepperdine University, rushed back to her house to call the paramedics and the sheriffs while her father, Bob J. Gilliam, who was visiting from Hot Springs Village, Ark., remained at the scene.

Gilliam, a psychologist, who in recent years has specialized in training grief counselors since his own son was murdered in 1993, told The Malibu Times it appeared to him that the green pipe looked partially melted. He speculated the pipe and towel had fallen out of the exhaust pipe of the automobile and that, although the boy was motionless, he thought there might still be a possibility the boy was alive. There were towels stuffed around the other end of the pipe where it entered the window, apparently to seal up the car. Gilliam, formerly at Pepperdine for almost 20 years, had taught psychology and was director of academic computing his last four years. He decided to break the window to try to render CPR. After smashing the window with a rock, he reached over to touch the young man, but rigor mortis had set in.

He then turned off the engine and waited until the sheriff’s deputies and paramedics arrived. When they did, they taped off the scene and left everything in place, as they’re required to do, and awaited the arrival of the homicide detectives and the county coroner. One of them indicated it looked like the victim had been dead for several hours.

Dick Callahan contributed to this story.