Family of attorney who died in Mexico dispute account from authorities
Fox News correspondent Christina Coleman has more on the mysterious death of Orange County public defender Elliott Blair on ‘America Reports.’
The family of a Southern California attorney who mysteriously died while vacationing in Mexico last week has taken issue with the conflicting explanations given by Mexican authorities and one medical expert told Fox News Digital there are several concerning inconsistencies with the government’s version of events.
Orange County Deputy Public Defender Elliot Blair, 33, was celebrating his first wedding anniversary at Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito Beach with his wife, Kim, when he died. Authorities have said the death was an accidental fall which the family disputes saying that the tragic incident took place in an “open-air walkway” and that they believe he was the victim of a “brutal crime.”
“There are various inconsistencies in the preliminary reports that immediately suggest that there’s more than meets the eye,” body performance & injury expert Dr. Rami Hashish told Fox News Digital on Friday.
Hashish cited reports that Blair sustained a forehead injury inconsistent with a fall and said that poses two important questions that have remained unanswered.
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Orange County Deputy Public Defender Elliot Blair was "tragically killed" while vacationing in Rosarito, Mexico, on Jan. 14, is family says.
“Considering his height, the height of the balcony, and the fact he was reportedly not intoxicated, how did his body vertically traverse the balcony’s edge? If in fact, he fell independently, why did he not contort his body to limit the impact to his head, and maximize his chance of survival?”
Earlier this week, the Orange County Register reported that Mexican authorities suggested Blair fell from the balcony while trying to shoo pigeons off of the ledge which the family disputed and Dr. Hashish said seems unlikely given the circumstances.
“It’s highly unlikely for someone to lose balance when simply shooing pigeons away,” Hashish said. “But what’s even more unlikely, is for someone to lose balance and then fall over the edge of a balcony.”
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Orange County Deputy Public Defender Elliot Blair was with his wife vacationing in Mexico for their first-year wedding anniversary when he died.
“To fall from a balcony,” Hashish explained. “Mr. Blair’s center of gravity needed to exceed the highest edge of the balcony. As humans, our center of gravity is about an inch below our belly button. And, of course, when we lose our balance, such as during a slip or trip, we fall downwards.
“So, how exactly did Mr. Blair lose his balance, yet his belly button was still above the edge of the balcony? And how did he lose his balance in such an aggressive fashion in which he couldn’t react to prevent himself from falling – for example, by grabbing onto part of the balcony?”
Blair’s family says he was found in his underwear, sleeping T-shirt and socks, and he was not intoxicated.
Blair’s wife, Kimberly Williams, came back with Blair to the hotel room around midnight after going to dinner. Williams is said to have fallen asleep while Blair took a shower and was woken up at 1:40 a.m. by hotel employees who asked her about Blair at which point the body was discovered below the balcony, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The family also said that they are unable to do their own toxicology investigation because Blair’s body was embalmed against their wishes following an order from prosecutors. A Mexican official denied that anything was done to the body against the wishes of the family.
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Hashish, the founder of the National Biomechanics Institute, told Fox News Digital he has consulted an attorney for the family that also concluded that the story from Mexican officials doesn’t add up. Hashish pointed out that healthy males like Blair can typically survive three-story falls.
“Healthy young adults, such as Mr. Blair, can survive a three-story independent fall,” Hashish said. “However, if they are unconscious, or if there’s an external force – such as when being thrown or pushed – then not only do they have less of an ability to react and protect their body at impact, but they also impact the ground with a much greater force.”
The conflicting information out of Mexico grew even murkier this week when Blair’s family said that Mexican authorities claimed that Blair had suffered a gunshot wound, New York Post reported.
A Mexican official has since denied the existence of a gunshot wound, Los Angeles Times reported, and said that “there was no sign of violence.”
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California public defender, Elliot Blair, and his wife, Kim, smile in photo from GoFundMe page.
“The preliminary evidence suggests that if Mr. Blair was not intoxicated, then his fall from the balcony was likely not independent in nature,” Hashish said. “Of course, given the evidence surrounding the case, this may suggest that there was something nefarious that led to his fall, and ultimate death. The recent revelations, in which Ms. Blair’s wife reported that her husband was shot in the head, certainly would qualify as such.”
The U.S. State Department confirmed to Fox News Digital it is aware of Blair’s death in Baja California, Mexico, and stands ready to “provide all appropriate consular assistance” but has no further comment “out of respect to the family during this difficult time.”
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Blair’s family says they will be hiring a private investigation firm and an independent forensic pathologist. They also said they would be conducting their own toxicology analysis.
“Due to the insufficiency of the investigation, the family feels compelled to conduct their own private investigation in search for the truth,” the family said in a statement.
Hashish told Fox News Digital that in his experience testifying as an expert witness on “countless occasions” that it is not uncommon to see variations in stories due to “lapse in memory” or “misunderstandings of the questions being posed” but they can also be the result of “misrepresentation of the facts” and that “a cover-up is certainly a possibility.”
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As of Friday afternoon, over $113,000 was donated to a GoFundMe page aimed at helping his wife “with the cumbersome process involved in transporting Elliot’s body from Mexico to the USA and dealing with all the red tape.”
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.
Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected].