Grace Autio, 1960-2010

by jexmas on July 11, 2010

I was not going to write about this, but it keeps haunting me and seems fitting given my last post. This is what I know:

Last Thursday morning at approximately 11:30 a.m., a woman I did not know and whose name I did not find out until the next day, took her own life by jumping from the 18th floor of the Westin Hotel directly across the alley from my office building. She landed in the alley that also leads to the parking garage where I had parked my car that day and into the back of the Four Seasons Hotel.

She climbed over the fire escape railing and let herself fall. A hotel employee was standing in the alley, smoking a cigarette, as I have often seen the employees do when they take a break from work. She landed a few feet from where he was standing.

A man on the 11th floor in my building, in an office directly above mine, happened to be looking out his window on that side and saw her climb the railing. He opened the window to say something to her, but she fell without acknowledging him.

The police came and the man who had been smoking a cigarette had to be taken to the hospital, he was so upset by the shock and the amount of damage done to her body. The police asked the man on the 11th floor to go with them to identify the body where it landed since he was apparently the last person to see her alive.

The alley is pretty soulless. Just another alley with high walls of buildings on either side. The Four Seasons Hotel employs a man to be out there every morning with a power washer to wash away any traces of homeless people urinating, defecating or sleeping in the alley. I do not know how they cleaned up the mess of the woman’s body, but when I walked down the alley later in the evening to get my car, there was no sign of anything other than a few dark and indistinct stains here and there.

This incident made me so sad and filled with despair in ways I do not really understand.  There was nothing redeeming about this death. Nothing romantic, nothing purposeful. Just a body falling almost 200 feet and smashing into some alley in some city. Something she did on purpose to end her life so violently and with so little value.

When I got home, I googled “suicide sf” and “woman falls from hotel railing” and found nothing.  The next day, there was a small entry in the SF Weekly about a woman who had been identified after she had jumped from the Westin Hotel but there was no further information or explanation of who she was and why she might have been so troubled. One comment left at the end of this article said Grace Autio had worked at Lockheed for many years and had most recently been working for AT&T. I googled Grace Autio and found a reference to a Grace Autio who had been arrested for DUI in May of this year and a Facebook page for Grace Autio with no photo and five friends.

I feel so sorry for Grace. There was no easy transition from life to death. Just smashing into a hard, impenetrable surface that echoes so much of what human beings create in every facet of life. There was no grace in the way she died. I wonder where she went that she could simply throw away the rest of what was left.

I hope she has found peace.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris July 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Yikes, how can one not write or do something with that. Haunting!

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Laura July 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Thank you for giving her a name . . .

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Kim July 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I work in the office directly across from the Westin, and I walked past the alley shortly after Grace jumped and saw her body. It was of course shocking, but mostly just sad. I can’t imagine the despair that would lead someone to end their life in that way. I’m so sorry she felt that despair. I of course didn’t know her, but I was happy to see the posting in the SF Weekly from her friend – it’s good to know that even though her end was so violent and tragic, she had people who loved her.

It was good of you to write this – she may have ended her life in a soulless place, but you honor her with your kind soul. Thank you.

I too hope she rests in peace.

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jexmas July 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Thank you, Kim, it feels so important to know that Grace was seen and her death is known, even if it was so shocking. Too sad…

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A Friend July 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I was a friend of Grace’s many years ago and was saddened like all our friends to learn of her death.

This blog posting gave some insights that weren’t previously available.

How awful this is on many points. Many people will feel the loss of Grace. Many people will feel the effects just by seeing her in her last moments.

There were better moments. She was a blast of a friend to be around. Very giving and compassionate most would say. Thanks for taking the time to give her a name.

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Waneta July 12, 2010 at 11:52 am

I would like to agree with you.

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Jerry July 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

I’ve worked with Grace for a little over two years and just this morning found out about her traggic death. She was a good person and always wanted to help her coe workers in any way. She was one of the few that stood up to the boss’s and gave them a peace of her mind when everyone was afraid to do so. Some people might have found her to be a bit different but to me and I’m sure other friends of her she was a great human being. She was a good friend to everyone and will be missed. R.I.P

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Waneta July 12, 2010 at 11:20 am

My friend Grace was a great person. She stood up for what she thoughts was right. I am very sad by the way she chose to end her life. If only she knew how many lives she would leave with emptiness. I can not even say how very sad this makes me feel a friend of mine gone this way hurts so very bad. You will be missed. R.I.P.

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Sylvia July 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thank you for writing about Grace in such a kind and respectful way. I am the partner of a close friend of Grace and she and all of Grace’s friends are in very close communication and are working through their grief together and with their loved ones. Stories are being piece together.

Grace was a deep thinker and feeler and showed up for so many in her life. I appreciate the times I got to spend with her whether it was out in the community or a quiet dinner at her house or an outing to Santa Cruz to decompress from all the hustle and bustle that life can bring.

I remember her lighting up when she talked about her cowgirl days! She was an excellent horsewoman.

What deep heaviness in her soul. I imagine her spirit lifted up into the universe zooming around with the stars.

Again, thank you, everyone, for writing about her. I expect that you will receive more responses.

Blessings,
Sylvia

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J July 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I was working in the Four Seasons on this day. And I too was touched by an overwhelming sadness that stays with me still today. Thank you for summing up our collective thoughts so beautifully.

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Kathleen July 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I too knew Grace and as her name implies much about her was full of grace. She was a woman of vitality and we, her friends and aquaintances, are all deeply sadden by her last moments. Grace was not alone, she was loved and cared for and I will miss her and grieve the loss of this bright soul whom we all hope has found the peace she could not find in this life.

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Sirena July 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I worked with Grace for 6 months a few years ago, and I remember her always being good for a joke and willing to help out.

Its horrible she ended her life this way. My prayers go out to her friends and family.

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Chanel July 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I worked with Grace at AT&T for a couple of years. Grace had a big heart, and she loved people. She would give her shirt off her own back to help someone. She will be missed.

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Andrew Zuniga July 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I worked with Grace at AT&T for almost 4 years. She held the same position as me. Grace was always willing to give a helping hand and an open ear to everyone which is why she undertook the task of being our union steward.

Her warm personality and smile will be deeply missed at AT&T…

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Karen S. (San Mateo) July 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Dear Grace,

My sweet friend, you were so full of love, compassion, goodwill, friendship and intention. You brought so much to my life. I just sang you Happy Birthday only months ago. Where have you gone, Cowgirl? Into the night sleeping soundly under a shower of Stars? Perhaps they asked you to join them. Just as you gazed upon them with wide eyed wonder, StarGazer…they looked right back at you, straight into your kind soul and generous heart. They could not still your pain but they might have soothed your soul…as you once did for so many others…tirelessly, endlessly…on the long journey…we call life. May your soul be lifted to Eternity. May you reunite with your beloved twin brother, Philip, who left before you did. His loss was your greatest loss. An ocean of tears you shed when he died. I tried to catch them all but they fell like rain. That moment in time has come to pass. Constellation “Gemini” the mighty Twins: Grace & Philip together once again, ruling the Galaxy! Will you bless us once again with your presence with each passing Midnight Sky? Thanks for supporting my music over the years. I will save you a seat at all my shows. I will miss you…tremendously so. I love you my dear friend.
Always,
Karen S.

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Chanel July 12, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Karen, Grace used to tell me about you all the time. She loved your music, and was so supportive of it.

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Angela July 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Grace & I started our journey with AT&T at the same time. Our project was so new, we were a small group at the time & put in so many hours together that we all became family. As time went by, we moved where the project expanded & our conversations became fewer & farther between but the bond is still there. When I heard the news of Grace’s passing I was shocked & saddened. I thought of all the hours I spent working side by side with her & could just not picture her ever without a smile. I am sorry Grace that you felt this was your only way out but I also thank you for reminding me how short life can be. I have reached out to all of my old crew just to catch up & remind them I still care. You inspired that! May God hold you in his arms & never let you go… Xoxo, Angela Modesto Crew

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Larry July 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I’ll miss you Grace, your smile, your bullheadedness, your persistence in standing up for whatever is right, your being openhearted, your helping hand, your camaraderie, your leadership. Thank you for being you. It’s an honor working with you. I hope you’ve found peace and happiness there, wherever you are now. – Larry, AT&T San Francisco

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Natalie July 23, 2010 at 8:39 am

I will miss Grace….she was a great friend to my cousin. Spent Christmas with her a few years ago and an interesting fun trip to Vegas with her, will keep those memories very close to my heart. I wish I could have been there for you. You were a good person. I hope that, you are in peace now and have no troubles or pain. You will be greatly missed! XOXO

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Chuck (Grace's Best Friend) July 23, 2010 at 9:15 am

Grace truly was an amazing person in every respect…she was kind, generous, loving and she was brilliant…ask anyone she ever worked with…(she was the woman responsible for helping take the pictures of Schumaker Levy hitting Jupiter)…she worked constantly…and was very driven…If she was going to do something…she did it…
And thus in her typical resolute behaviour…she jumped…she would rather die than go back to jail for another DUI…Grace had never harmed anyone in her life…and I’m sure even in this act…she didn’t intend for anyone to be left damaged…this was a personal choice…she even did this while I was on vacation in Germany…I still heard about it while I was there…but as one can imagine there is never any one time better than another to hear such news. Grace did have a problem with alchoholism and there is no other way to sugar coat that…she does have many friends who love her no matter where she is…I was contacted by her from the other side through a friend who has “capabilities”…her message to me was “I’m in a really good space”…these are only words Grace would use given her background…and she basically replied specifically to my prayers aside the AutoBahn for her…as I prayed that she “was in a good space”…and asked her if she was with Phillip…she is indeed with Phillip her twin… she had never recovered from his loss by his own hands as well..being twins…they always did things together…unfortunately this was one of them. They had a very symbiotic relationship.
Phillip was the hands…Grace was the Brains of the outfit. what happened however was just that…Phillip lost his hands in a Machining accident in the Pacific Northwest…and Grace lost her mind after this and thus the drinking and their suicides…the pain they both had endured despite love from outside sources was unbearable for them…and thus a sad story written here. Grace however did mention that she is with her twin and they have had many incarnations together…her favorite Aunt is there…they are tending to giant flowers on some distant planet, and she now understood how everything works (her engineering side) and then she mentioned sorry about all the paper work…which I’ll eventually find out what that means. I am meeting with Grace’s Mom Pat O’brien this Saturday. I know that Grace wished her ashes to be placed with her brothers’ at the “Big Basin Memorial Grove” in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If anyone wishes to send a sympathy card to Grace’s mom…they can e-mail me and I’ll send you her address…my e-mail is chssands@aol.com …I will give further details about a memorial upon talking to Grace’s mom
Grace I’ll always love you…and like you said I’ll see you in another 33 years…I’ll carry you with me till then.
Helloooooooo…Phillip! Love Always to both of you
Chuck of the Mountain

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jexmas July 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

Thank you, Chuck, for your beautiful, sensitive thoughts. It is such a sad story and it really helps to know how much Grace was suffering.
I’m so sorry she was in so much pain and felt this was the only way. You and many others loved her and undoubtedly she was helped by that…

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Natalie July 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Chucke, My dear cousin….so beautifully written…Thanks for putting thing into perspective…She was such a great friend to you!
Love you Natalie

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Greg A August 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I always remembered our last conversation thirty four years ago,and the years I knew you before. And I’ll never forget about your tragic demise.

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kathie April 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Due to the power of the internet I just discovered this posting about Grace’s suiside. I cannot express how this saddens me. We had lost contact many years ago and now there is no reconnecting. What a waste! I will treasure the memories I have of Grace & Philip and pray that they (and their loved ones) have found peace.

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Elaine August 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm

I knew Grace Audio, she had a great mind for science, camera’s, len’s and lasers. Matter of fact she was working on a laser that would bend when I last talked to her back in 2009.

This is such a tragedy for such a great mind. She was troubled with achohol, was once in rehab for it. And after that I lost track of her. If this is the same Grace, I am so saddened by the loss of a bright light and Kind person. May God be with her now. Thank you for writing this article. Grace was born around April 13,1960. She will be missed.

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