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Pilot's death in Burbank due to natural causes, authorities say

December 13, 2012 |  4:07 pm

Alaska Airlines pilot Lee Morris with two of his grandsons. Credit: Alaska Airlines

A 55-year-old commercial airline pilot found dead along the 5 Freeway in Burbank died of natural causes, authorities said Thursday.

The death of Lee Clifford Morris, of Richland, Wash., stunned his friends and co-workers.

Morris was a Seattle-based pilot who worked for Horizon and Alaska Airlines for 26 years, said Paul McElroy, an Alaska Airlines spokesman. He was described as a highly regarded and respected pilot.

Officials said there were no obvious signs of injury -- no gunshot or stab wounds -- and no evidence that Morris had been struck by a car. Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said Morris' wallet and identification were found with the body.

A passerby spotted the body beside a fence at the Scott Road off-ramp about 6 p.m. Tuesday and called authorities, Sgt. Darin Ryburn said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the man dead.

Morris flew from Seattle to Burbank at mid-morning 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. After he did not show up for the flight, McElroy said, airline officials contacted the hotel and local authorities.

As a result of the autopsy and toxicology tests, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said the death was from natural causes.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Alaska Airlines pilot Lee Morris with two of his grandsons. Credit: Alaska Airlines

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