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Man distracted by device dies in fall off cliff, witnesses say

Technically Incorrect: In San Diego, the man was said to be staring down at his device and not looking where he was walking.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, where the tragedy occurred.

NBC San Diego screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Those who saw what happened rushed to help.

They clambered down the rocks to save a man they'd seen topple over Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, but it was too late.

The man, identified by the county medical examiner and by family members on Facebook as 33-year-old Joshua M. Burwell of Sheridan, Indiana, died.

As NBC San Diego reports, witnesses suggest that he may have stopped in a car to capture the sunset.

It's unclear whether the device in his hands might have been a camera or a phone. However, San Diego lifeguard Bill Bender told NBC: "[He] wasn't watching where he was walking. He was looking down at the device in his hands."

Bender said that three witnesses tried to climb down to help and that CPR was administered. One person threw down climbing gear. It was to no avail.

Neither the San Diego Lifeguards Department nor the San Diego Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment.

Incidents involving gadget distraction, in particular cell phones, have multiplied. Earlier this year, a tourist died at the Taj Mahal while trying to take a selfie with his phone.

Three years ago, a woman in Alaska fell off a cliff while texting. She miraculously survived.

Somehow, there can never be enough warnings, enough reminders that people can be so severely distracted by their gadgets that they endanger themselves and others.

All one can do is to hope that people pay attention, that they stop and think before it's too late.