Man Was Distracted By Electronic Device When He fatally Fell From Cliff

fell 40 feet to his death at San Diego's Sunset Cliffs
A 33-year-old man fell 40 feet to his death at San Diego's Sunset Cliffs. Photo by Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Witnesses say a man who fell 40 feet to his death at San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs on Christmas Day may have been distracted by an electronic device.

“[He] wasn’t watching where he was walking, he was looking down at the device in his hands,” local lifeguard Bill Bender told NBC7.

Authorities identified the deceased as 33-year-old Joshua Burwell, who was visiting California from Indiana.

“Burwell was walking near the edge of Sunset Cliffs when he was witnessed to slip and fall about 40 feet to the rocks below,” a county medical examiner told CNN affiliate KSWB.

After seeing the fall, witnesses scrambled down rocks to attend to Burwell. CPR was unsuccessfully administered. Paramedics also tried and failed to revive Burwell. He was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of trauma.

Reports suggest Burwell may have stopped and exited his car near the cliffs in order to capture a photo of the sunset. Authorities were unable to locate a device; it remains unclear whether Burwell was distracted by a phone or camera.

Bender says the tragedy is a reminder that devices can be dangerously distracting in and out of the car.

“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 said.


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