By Cari Hachmann
Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a motel in the 2300 block of South Camino Real in San Clemente on Sunday, August 11, at about 12:30 p.m., according to Joses Walehwa, public affairs sergeant at Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Residents on San Clemente Life Facebook page reported seeing multiple police and crime scene investigation units that day at The Inn at Calafia Beach, sparking concern over what was going on at the 2-star accommodation.
Walehwa confirmed that deputies found a dead man in one of the motel rooms.
“The investigation is ongoing,” said Walehwa. “However, there is no concern for public safety at this time.”
Walehwa did not give any more details about the man, and said his cause of death is pending the Coroner’s investigation. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714.647.7000.
The Inn’s manager, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he was the first one to discover the deceased man.
“He was sitting on the toilet seat,” the Inn’s manager said. “I opened the door. He didn’t talk at all, so I immediately called police.”
The manager, who has worked at the motel for almost three years, said this is the first time an incident like this has happened.
That day, he had called out to the guest from the front door of the motel room. When the individual didn’t respond, he opened the front door and saw the bathroom door wide open, with the man sitting on the toilet.
The manager said he noticed some blood on the door of the bathroom, and when the man didn’t respond to communication attempts, he shut the door and notified authorities.
Police did not provide motel management any more information surrounding the death, according to The Inn manager.
Local resident Melina Ann Steinmetz wrote on San Clemente Life Facebook page that police were at the motel for hours on Sunday.
“I saw a man in regular clothes, maybe a detective talking to one of the cops. The man in regular clothes said to the cops, ‘There was blood all over the walls and bed, then the paramedics came, then you guys showed up.’”
Steinmetz wrote that she walks her dog by the motel every day.
Other residents had similar concerns about the unusual police presence at the 16-room motel, which was built in 1950 and offers rates as low as $80 per night, according to tripadvisor.com.
Described as a “San Clemente surf motel,” less than a mile from the beach, the website gave The Inn at Calafia Beach a 3.5 out of 5 rating, or “very good.”