The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) is investigating the death of a Santa Monica teen as a potential drug overdose.
According to the LBPD, officers were dispatched to the Los Angeles riverbed at about 1:30 a.m. for a report of a body on April 6. Officers found what was then an unidentified female of unknown age along the waterline.
The Public Safety Dive Team, Long Beach Search & Rescue and Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office responded to the scene to search for evidence.
The 9-1-1 call said a vehicle was seen leaving the area but follow up investigation of vehicles matching the initial description did not lead to any arrests.
On April 11, the Coroner’s office released the identity of the victim as 17-year-old Leslie Hernandez of Santa Monica.
“Based on the initial results of the investigation, which includes the preliminary findings of the LA County Coroner’s Office, this case is being investigated as a possible drug overdose,” said a statement from LBPD. “The details surrounding why her remains were at that location are still under investigation.”
Hernandez is the fourth local teen to die this year.
Kelly Cano died from an unknown medical condition, Juan Sebastian Castillo was shot and Andre Zuczek died after falling from an apartment balcony.
Zuczek’s death was also connected to drugs as police said he had taken LSD prior to his fall. The Zuczek family issued a statement asking the community to take the opportunity to talk to youth about the dangers of drugs and the local school district has been working on education and outreach efforts. The district will hold a workshop in the near future to educate local parents about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
SMMUSD Community and Public Relations Officer Gail Pinsker said Hernandez was previously enrolled in the local district but has not been a student at SMMUSD since 2015.
LBPD said that due to their ongoing investigation, no additional details about the Hernandez case are being released at this time.
Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact L.B.P.D. Homicide Detectives Donald Goodman and Mark Mattia at (562) 570-7244. Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smart phone (available at the Apple App store and Google Play), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.