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Updated: Woman plunges from Auburn building onto car

38-year-old woman from El Dorado Hills survives plunge
By: Gus Thomson, Gold Country Media News Service
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A woman who minutes before had said she wanted to go to heaven plummeted Thursday from the roof of a building in Downtown Auburn, landing on a car. The woman's fall was witnessed by at least two people at around 10:20 a.m. They both said they saw her somersault more than once before landing on her back on the roof of the station wagon parked on Downtown Auburn's High Street. The woman was not identified by Auburn Police but she was determined to be a 38-year-old El Dorado Hills resident. Witnesses watched in astonishment as the woman dropped from the roof of the Gold Country Mall. Several people said they heard the loud thud of her body hitting the car. Laureen Campana, a trauma nurse from Roseville, saw the woman free falling from two streets down. “I wondered if it was really a person, it was so bizarre,” she said. Campana administered aid to the woman from the roof of the car. Campana said the woman had a pulse and was breathing after the fall and that the only thing she said to her was "What happened?" Minutes before the fall, the woman had engaged Lisa Miller of the building’s Scent Chips business, in conversation that Miller characterized as unusual. The woman had asked about Snuggies and mentioned that she loved their smell, Miller said. Then she remarked that it was a similar smell in heaven. “I’d like to go to heaven,” Miller quoted the woman as then saying. Soon after, the woman ran up the stairs at the Gold Country Mall. Miller said she was dressed in a jacket, fully made up, and wearing heels. “She seemed happy,” Miller said. Thursday’s incident took place days after two similar events. On Monday, a despondent woman fell from a high ridge near the Foresthill Bridge and told rescuers she wanted to die. Tuesday, a 27-year-old man from Citrus Heights died after leaping 700 feet down to the canyon below from the bridge. What makes the Auburn suicide much different is that it was done in a very public setting. Dan Sokol, a well-known Auburn taxpayers' advocate, had just pulled into a parking slot in front of the building to pick up a book at a store inside when the woman hit the top of the Volvo station wagon he was driving. “She jumped before I got out,” Sokol said. “I felt a big thump. I had no idea what it was. It felt like all the tires had blown out at once.” Sokol, 83, and his wife, Jenny McDermott Sokol, 82, were uninjured, although McDermott Sokol was visibly shaken by the incident and was given oxygen by emergency personnel. Mary Paniagua, a Journal employee, said she watched out the business's window and saw the woman doing somersaults in the air before landing on her back. The woman's landed on the driver's side of the station wagon roof, leaving a six-inch impression into the metal. Campana said the woman was unresponsive as she kept her from being moved from the roof of the car until emergency personnel took over. "She was making a growling noise in a low tone," Campana said. The injured woman was placed in a neck brace and appeared to be alive but seriously injured as she was taken down from the car and to an ambulance. High Street at East Placer was temporarily closed as emergency personnel, Auburn Police and a growing crowd of onlookers gathered at the scene. Auburn resident Allen Cassidy, who was drinking coffee at the building’s first-floor High Street Café, said he saw the car pull up and heard the thump. “The first thing I thought was that she got hit in the street,” Cassidy said. “I hope she’s going to be all right. She was fortunate to land on top of the car. Otherwise she would have been dead.” Sgt. Victor Pecoraro said that while the investigation was continuing, Auburn Police were treating the incident as a suicide attempt. The woman was being treated for internal injuries at Sutter Roseville Hospital’s trauma center and was awake and talking by the afternoon. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. Journal Editor Deric Rothe contributed to this report.