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Alaska Airlines pilot found dead along 5 Freeway was 'in good health'

October 4, 2012 |  6:09 am

As investigators await autopsy results on a 55-year-old pilot found dead along the 5 Freeway, Alaska Airlines officials said the veteran captain had passed his required physical exams and was "in good health."

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

He was identified as Lee Clifford Morris of Richland, Wash., 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 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."

Detectives were waiting for coroner's officials to determine a cause of death, Ryburn said. There were no obvious signs of injury -- no gunshot or stab wounds, and no evidence that Morris had been struck by a car, he said. His wallet and identification were with the body, he said, indicating robbery was probably not a motive.

"We absolutely don't know," Ryburn said.

Burbank police are in the process of interviewing Morris' crew members and co-workers.

Coroner's officials said early Thursday that the autopsy had not yet been scheduled.


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