Stab Magazine | The Original Aerialist Was Released Of Murder Charges

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The Original Aerialist Was Released Of Murder Charges

Kevin Reed remains a “person of interest”. 

news // May 4, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

On Sunday, Kevin Reed was arrested 100 feet from the body of Steven Lee, asleep on the beach in Santa Cruz.

Kevin is surfing’s original aerialist. He landed his first air in 1972, and the first documented air in 1975–which settled on the cover of Surfing Magazine. Sending heavy glassed single fins above the lip is a feat in its own sense, unfortunately, that’s just a fuzzy gray lining and the only reason you’re reading this story here. Now known as Kevin Callahan, he’s been homeless for a few years, reportedly “drinking heavily and generally having a hard time in life.”

Was such exploitation founded? Multiple sources picked up this story, nearly all of surf media ran with it, only to find the next day the charges had been dropped. In the end just highlighting the plight of Kevin and noting the nostalgia of a better time in his life. Sadly, Kevin’s story from glowing surf pioneer to homeless, burn out, sleeping beneath a seawall in Santa Cruz seems commonplace. Drugs are rampant in surfing, and Santa Cruz is no beacon of sobriety. Kevin did, however, admit to the police the night of his arrest to choking Lee, but told the investigators he was alive when he left him at the scene.

Stated in a Mercury News article released today:
“After careful review of the evidence submitted by the Santa Cruz Police Department, and autopsy findings provided by the Sheriff’s Coroner’s office, the District Attorney’s Office has determined there is insufficient evidence to charge Kevin Callahan regarding the death of Steven Lee. Kevin Callahan has since been released from custody,” according to a release from the Santa Cruz County District Attorneys Office on Tuesday.

Santa Cruz police have reclassified of Lee’s demise as a “suspicious death” and consider Callahan a “person of interest,” department spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said Tuesday.

“At this point, because the coroner’s report is inconclusive. There isn’t a conclusive cause of death. We can’t rule it a homicide because we don’t know how or why he died,” Blaschke said. “This all hinges on the coroner’s report. It makes sense as part of our legal process that we would err on the side of caution.”

Santa Cruz police took Callahan, known during his professional surfing days as Kevin Reed, into custody after the body of Lee, 52, was found dead near the Main Beach volleyball courts around 4:20 a.m. Sunday. At the time, police reported no obvious signs of trauma on Lee’s body and were unable to determine his cause of death, according to a department release.

Though the Santa Cruz County Coroner’s Office has conducted an autopsy, according to department spokesman Sgt. Chris Clark, a determination on the cause of Lee’s death is pending until results of the toxicology test are returned. 


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