Distracted Man Who Fell Off Cliff Identified

Out-of-towner may have been looking for parking spot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2015 4:24 AM CST
Distracted Man Who Fell Off Cliff Identified
Witnesses say the man appeared distracted at the top of the cliffs.   (Jon Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons)

The man who died in a Christmas Day fall from a San Diego cliff while distracted by his electronic device was from out of town and may not have known he was in a place where not looking where you're going could be deadly. The man has been identified as Joshua M. Burwell, a 33-year-old father of one from Indiana, People reports. On Facebook, his heartbroken mother wrote that he had been taking pictures from the top of Sunset Cliffs. "Hug your kids and always tell them you love them," she wrote. "Glad my last words to Josh were 'love you!'" San Diego lifeguard Bill Bender says that witnesses reported seeing Burwell fall while distracted by some kind of electronic device, though no device has been recovered, the AP reports.

According to Fox 5, Burwell traveled to the site with another person in his car and fell 60 feet to his death after he got out of the vehicle to search for a parking spot. Thor Wilink, 13, tells NBC 7 that he rushed from his home with climbing supplies after hearing screams and shouts, including, "Help, please God, save me." The teen says he witnessed surfers performing CPR on Burwell, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Bender says the death should serve as a reminder, NBC reports. "Just like driving and using a cell phone, you don't want to be walking and using a cell phone or be distracted or anything," he says. (Last year, a grad student fell to her death in the same area while posing for a photo.)

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