Virtual academy mourns ‘beloved’ teacher who died with 2-year-old son in Petco Park fall

Local

SAN DIEGO – The California Virtual Academies community is mourning the loss of Raquel Wilkins, a longtime instructor who fell to her death with her 2-year-old son Saturday prior to a Padres game at Petco Park.

Wilkins, 40, and her son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, tumbled over the railing from a third-level dining area and onto a sidewalk on Tony Gwynn Drive. San Diego police investigators say their deaths “appeared to be suspicious,” but a witness told FOX 5 this week that Wilkins appeared to have lost her balance after jumping up on the bench of a picnic table near the railing before falling nearly six stories.

In an emailed statement Thursday, April Warren, head of school at California Virtual Academies, said the K-12 public charter school system was “saddened” to hear about the loss of Wilkins.

Warren called Wilkins a “beloved” lead teacher who worked there for a decade.

“We send our heartfelt thoughts and wishes to her family and ask that you respect their privacy during these grieving times,” Warren said.

The investigation into their deaths is ongoing with few details yet released by police about their efforts. Attorney Daniel Gilleon, who was hired to represent the family, told FOX 5 the family anticipates filing a wrongful death lawsuit, though it is not clear when that will happen.

Having met the Wilkins family Tuesday, Gilleon called them “sophisticated,” “educated” and “very somber.”

“When you’re taking money from people and making big bucks, they shouldn’t fall off six stories to their death from a bench that’s right next to a fence,” Gilleon said. “All sorts of ways to protect against that.”

In Ocean Beach, a neighbor who knew the family for several years said that he was “viscerally affected” upon learning of Raquel and Denzel’s deaths.

“The father, Chris, is a great guy,” the neighbor said. “I see him around. Loved his little boy. No explanation to rationalize or understand how this could happen and my heart just goes out to the family.”

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