SoCal Doctor Stuck in Boyfriend's Chimney Died of Asphyxia

Kern County Coroner's office rules the death of a Bakersfield woman as accidental

By Olsen Ebright
|  Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010  |  Updated 11:54 AM PDT
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SoCal Doctor Stuck in Boyfriend's Chimney Died of Asphyxia

AP

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, 2007 file photo (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Felix Adamo)

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The Kern County Coroner has ruled the death of a Bakersfield woman who was found dead in her boyfriend's chimney as accident by asphyxia.

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac's body was discovered Saturday after a house-sitter noticed a foul odor emanating from the fireplace, police told the Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the Kern County coroner's office ruled the death an accident, BakersfieldNow.com reported. Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt told KERO-TV that Kotarac's chest was compressed to the point that she could not breathe.

Police believe that on Aug. 25, the 49-year-old went to her "on-again, off-again" boyfriend's home. To avoid a confrontation, the man snuck out of the home unnoticed by Kotarac.

Unable to break into the home, Kotarac apparently used a ladder to make her way to the roof of the house, police say. That's when she apparently tried to slide down the chimney. The opening is estimated to be about 14.5 inches by 10.5 inches.

Her body was found about two feet above the fireplace's opening. It took authorities five hours to dismantle the chimney to retrieve her body.

"She made an unbelievable error in judgment and nobody understands why, and unfortunately she's passed away," her boyfriend told the AP. "She had her issues -- she had her demons -- but I never lost my respect for her."

KBAK-TV posted the following report:

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