Revelry turned to tragedy for one Mission resident over Independence Day weekend. Ann Zeis, a 26-year-old copy writer and office assistant, fell from the roof of a building adjacent to her Harrison Street apartment in the early hours of July 5 and died at SF General Hospital on July 6, according to her family. Her parents are now offering a reward for the recovery of her MacBook Air and iPhone 5 in an effort to reclaim her photos and work to manage her affairs.
Zeis had been celebrating at the Blind Cat bar on 24th Street and Treat Avenue with her roommate and several new acquaintances, said Patrick Thomas, Zeis’ boyfriend. When her roommate left, Zeis elected to stay with her newfound friends. From there, exact events are conjecture.
Thomas guessed that Zeis went back to her apartment with the strangers, gained access to the rooftop on an adjacent building through her building’s backyard, and later fell onto Harrison Street. Her companions, he alleged, probably made off with her electronics. A passerby on his way to work found her and called an ambulance, Thomas said. When the family learned Zeis would not survive, they visited her apartment to put her affairs in order and discovered the devices missing.
The Office of the Medical Examiner confirmed Zeis’ death is under investigation by the police department and the medical examiner. Thomas said police are trying to piece together the timeline of events after Zeis left the bar, but added that he doesn’t think they are investigating foul play.
Stephanie Estrada, who lives in the building from which Zeis fell, said anyone who accessed the roof would have had to use a ladder that had been placed against the building to facilitate repairs. According to Estrada, nobody recovered any of Zeis’ belongings in the aftermath of the incident except for her boots, which appeared to have been tossed into the building’s backyard. She said Zeis must have reached the ladder by jumping a fence that separates the yards of Estrada’s building and Zeis’, which are back to back.
Emily Haltom said she was in her bedroom in the building next door when she heard the impact at around 7:30 a.m. She didn’t think much of it until she started hearing people react, at which point she looked outside to see Zeis lying on the sidewalk. However, apart from passersby attempting to get the victim help, Haltom said she didn’t see anyone else at the scene.
The family, meanwhile, is preoccupied with recovering Zeis’ belongings. They promise no questions asked if the devices are returned.
“Whoever did this, I have to assume would not have been necessarily aware of the fact that it was going to lead to my daughter’s death,” said Jeff Zeis, Ann’s father. “Since it has, they might be so petrified that they threw the laptop into the Bay, or who knows at this point… So no questions asked, because at this point who cares… we can’t bring my daughter back.”
Zeis’ parents heard of their daughter’s condition at their home in St. Louis, and flew to San Francisco before being notified that their daughter was on life support and unlikely to recover.
“She was just really full of life and a remarkable person in every way,” said Thomas, who met Zeis while attending Texas Christian University at Fort Worth and moved to the Mission with her three years ago. “It’s a pretty tragic loss.”
The family is accepting contributions in Zeis’ memory to the organization for which she served as a San Francisco board member—Indego Africa, a non-profit social enterprise that supports women artisans in Rwanda. Zeis had a history of charitable work, from assisting in therapeutic horsemanship sessions to becoming a member of Habitat for Humanity. She was also a yoga instructor who could be found practicing poses in city parks with her friends.
The family is holding a memorial service for Zeis in Saint Louis on July 20, however as the obituary, published this weekend in St. Louis Post Dispatch, notes: “Funeral-style attire is strongly discouraged in favor of bright, casual summer dress to help add to the intended tone best reflecting a jubilant life lived with unrelenting elan.”
Zeis’ family requests anyone with information that could help recover her belongings call (214) 491-8477.