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Police talk to co-workers of Alaska Airlines pilot found dead

Police detectives are interviewing co-workers of a 55-year-old Alaska Airlines pilot found dead along the 5 Freeway, as they try to determine how he died.

Officials said they are also awaiting the results of an autopsy in the case. There were no obvious signs of injury -- no gunshot or stab wounds -- and no evidence that Lee Clifford Morris had been struck by a car, said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn. Morris' wallet and identification were found with the body, Ryburn said, indicating that robbery was probably not a motive.

A passerby spotted the body along a fence at the Scott Road offramp about 6 p.m. Tuesday and called authorities, Ryburn said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the man dead.

Morris, of Richland, Wash., was a Seattle-based pilot who worked for Horizon and Alaska Airlines for 26 years, said Paul McElroy, an Alaska Airlines spokesman.

All captains for the airline undergo a physical exam twice a year, McElroy said.

"They're not allowed to fly if they don’t pass that medical," he said. "As far as we know, he was in good health."

Morris flew from Seattle to Burbank at midmorning Monday and checked into a hotel, where he was supposed to stay the night before flying back to Seattle on Tuesday at 7 a.m., McElroy said. He did not show up for the flight, McElroy said, which is when airline officials contacted the hotel and local authorities.

McElroy described Morris as a "highly regarded and respected pilot" survived by family, including his fiancee and grandsons.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lee's fiancee and other loved ones," Gary Beck, Alaska Airlines vice president of flight operations, said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by his fellow pilots and all employees at Alaska."
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