Heart condition killed Rainbow Family gathering participant, tests show

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 5, 2011, 7:05 PM

 

Autopsy results for a 28-year-old California woman who died suddenly at the Rainbow Family Gathering three months ago revealed a heart condition caused her death, the Skamania County Prosecutor’s Office said this week.

Amber Kellar, of Weed, Calif., died July 6 from a mitral valve prolapse, Adam Kick, Skamania County’s prosecuting attorney, reported in an email to The Columbian on Wednesday.

A mitral valve prolapse occurs when the valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart does not close properly, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown sparked controversy with statements he made shortly after Kellar’s death suggesting she died from an apparent drug overdose. The sheriff’s office released a written statement the following day stating investigators had found no evidence drugs played a role in Kellar’s death.

Kellar’s family and friends were adamant from the beginning that she had a pre-existing heart condition, and accused Brown of letting his bias against the peace festival inform his comments about Kellar.

Brown later admitted he spoke prematurely, without full details from his investigators.

Kellar sold handcrafted jewelry online, her friends said. In her spare time, she volunteered as treasurer for the Weed Arts Council.

Friends noted that Kellar loved attending the Rainbow Family Gathering, a festival that happens in a different national forest each Fourth of July.

This year’s weeklong gathering in the Skookum Meadows area of Gifford-Pinchot National Forest drew an estimated 20,000 attendees, who came to enjoy the outdoors, celebrate nature and pray for peace.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517, ray.legendre@columbian.com//www.twitter.com/col_smallcities//www.facebook.com/raylegend