Death of Mills High graduate prompts questions
MILLBRAE — Saw May Khoo just wants to know how her daughter died.
Authorities in San Diego found 18-year-old Sandy Khoo’s body on Valentine’s Day and believe the young woman most likely died after an accidental 50-foot fall at the Torrey Pines cliffs.
It appears the Mills High School graduate had been walking on a trail near the cliffs on the night of Feb. 13 and taken a wrong step. But her mom in Millbrae isn’t so sure and says police weren’t even looking into the death until she began to push them.
“That’s not Sandy at all,” her mother said.
Sandy Khoo was a shy San Diego State freshman who loved art and was learning to surf, but who didn’t go out at night alone, her mother said. She didn’t have a car and would not make the roughly 30-mile journey from her campus dormitory to the cliffs by herself, her mother said. She believes someone may have been with her daughter and may have seen what happened.
“Somebody is not coming forward with the information,” said Saw May Khoo, 52, who immigrated to the Bay Area from Myanmar in 1985.
Sandy Khoo’s roommate didn’t respond to a request for comment. But she told investigators that Khoo had left their room about 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13 without saying where she was going. The next sighting of the woman came at 5:30 p.m., Saw May Khoo said.
A taxi driver picked up the student near the Torrey Pines cliffs. Her mother was able to track the driver down after getting a copy of Sandy
Khoo’s cell phone records. But it’s not clear what the young woman was doing there or if she was with anyone. The driver told Saw May Khoo that her daughter was alone.
The mother, who is married and has a 20-year-old son, talked to her daughter for the final time at roughly this point. Sandy Khoo said nothing about the cliffs but told her mom she was hungry and planned to get something to eat.
Sandy Khoo next popped up in the campus cafeteria, where she used her student card to buy food. The last people found so far who saw Sandy Khoo were two female students that she rode in an elevator with at her dormitory.
After that, the student made one last call from her call phone at 12:04 a.m., to get a bus schedule.
People walking on the beach roughly 12 hours later spotted Khoo’s jeans about 80 feet up the cliff and called authorities. The San Diego Medical Examiner’s office said she died of blunt force trauma, possibly from the fall. The office hasn’t yet issued its final report on her death.
A police official said there was nothing about the case that appeared suspicious in the beginning, so they weren’t investigating it. But after Saw May Khoo called them and raised some questions, they opened an inquiry. So far they haven’t found much.
“We have not come up with anything to indicate that this is anything other than a tragic accident,” said San Diego Police Lt. Ernie Herbert. “I feel for Mrs. Khoo. I have an 18-year-old daughter.”
He said there doesn’t appear to be foul play involved, nor does the case seem to be a suicide, but neither of those will be ruled out completely until police see the medical examiner’s report.
In the meantime, detectives are working some leads, including possible surveillance footage from a public bus security camera as well as determining from where Khoo made her last call. Police will keep working the case but a final explanation may elude them.
“We all have an image of what our children will be, but who knows what that really is,” he said.
Anyone with information on Khoo’s death is asked to call the San Diego police at 619-531-2293 or 888-580-TIPS.
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