ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (KSDK) - Jessica Gartenberg, an 18-year-old Eckerd College student who recently graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, died Friday while she was paddle boarding with two of her friends.
Those who knew her described her as fun and outgoing.
"The world lost a beautiful soul today," Billie Kilts, the kitchen manager at the California Pizza Kitchen where she worked in high school, wrote in an email. "She will truly be missed by her CPK family at the St. Louis Galleria. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family."
Gartenberg was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition Friday, and was later pronounced dead. Witnesses found her face down in the water. She had been in college for only two weeks.
"She decided to swim towards the dock and the attendant on the dock stated that she saw her in the water swimming towards the dock, the attendant turned back over and didn't see her anyone," Lt. Joel Granada of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue said. "So the attendant became very alarmed."
Jessica's father, Stephen Gartenberg, said Jessica loved the beach and the water. Florida was her favorite place and she was studying liberal arts. She leaves behind a younger sister, Aliza, who is a sophomore at Ladue.
"The Ladue Schools community is saddened to learn of the death of Jessica Gartenberg, 2013 graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School," the Ladue School District said in a statement. "Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to students and stuff throughout the coming days and preparations will be made to honor Jessica and the contributions she made to the Ladue Schools family."