Burbank Police say the body found off the Golden State (5) Freeway near the Scott Road exit on Tuesday night was that of an Alaskan Airline pilot. He was staying at a Burbank hotel during a layover. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is expected to be completed Thursday. Angie Crouch reports from Burbank for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2012.
A man whose body was found along the Golden State (5) Freeway in Burbank was a Seattle-based pilot with Alaska Airlines who was on a layover between flights, officials with the carrier said on Wednesday.
The body of 55-year-old Lee Clifford Morris of Richland, Wash., was discovered shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday along the west side of the 5 Freeway off-ramp at Scott Road. Police found the body while responding to a report of a man down along the freeway.
He died at the scene. Burbank police said there were no signs of injury.
"He was clothed; his identification was with him. So it doesn’t appear robbery was a motive at this time," Burbank police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.
Investigators remained unsure how Morris got to the off-ramp.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Captain Morris, who was a highly respected pilot and 26-year veteran at Alaska," said Gary Beck, the Alaska Airlines vice president of flight operations, in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lee's fiancée and other loved ones. He will be greatly missed by his fellow pilots and all employees at Alaska."
Police are treating the incident as a suspicious death, and Tuesday night said they suspected the body had been dumped. The off-ramp was temporarily closed so officers could investigate, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Morris, a grandfather, was on a layover and was set to fly out of the Bob Hope Airport on Tuesday morning, Alaska Airlines spokesman Paul McElroy said.
Burbank police said Morris had been staying at the Courtyard Marriott near the Burbank Airport. He was well-known at the hotel and stayed there often, an employee said.
Ryburn said they were seeking information or witnesses who may have seen Morris walking between the hotel and the off-ramp, a distance of about a 1/4 mile.
Morris is survived by his fiancée, Eileen Hively.
Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious on the off-ramp between midnight and 6 p.m. was asked to Burbank police at (818) 238-3210.