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Six-year-old son of Coronado mansion owner dies from fall

July 17, 2011 |  7:45 pm

The 6-year-old son of the owner of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado has died from a fall suffered Monday, the family announced Sunday. The mansion was the site of the still-unexplained death of the owner's girlfriend.

Two days after Max Shacknai was taken to the hospital, his father's live-in girlfriend, Rebecca Nalepa, was found dead in the courtyard of the 27-room estate.

Her body was discovered hanging from a balcony, her hands and feet bound, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, which has said her death may have been a suicide.

The boy was injured in a fall from the grand staircase at the Ocean Boulevard mansion, near the Hotel Del Coronado. His death was announced by his father, Jonah Shacknai, in an email to reporters.

"His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day," said the father's email. "The loss to our families, Max's many friends of all ages, and teammates, and the community is immeasurable."

Shacknai and the boy's mother, Shacknai's ex-wife, Dina, were at the boy's bedside at Rady Children's Hospital.

The Sheriff's Department has said it has found no connection between the boy's fall and the death of the 32-year-old Nalepa. Her body was found by Shacknai's brother, Adam. The  investigation into the death continues.

Shacknai is the founder and chief executive officer of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., based in Scottsdale, Ariz., which specializes in skin-care products.

Nalepa, who was divorced, was also known by her maiden name, Rebecca Zahau. She and Shacknai had been together for more than two years.


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Photo: The historic Spreckels mansion in Coronado last week. Credit: Gregory Bull, Associated Press