SEATTLE - Police said the death of a Seattle-based Alaska Airlines pilot whose body was found near a road appears to be suspicious.
The man was found dead Tuesday night along an Interstate 5 off-ramp in Burbank, Calif., near the airport.
The pilot's union identified the man as 55-year-old Lee Clifford Morris, who lived in Richland.
The union said Morris had been a pilot at Alaska Airlines since 1990 and flew for Horizon Air four years earlier.
"He was a well-regarded member of our pilot group. He will be greatly missed. Our sympathies are with his family and friends,” a statement from the pilot’s union said.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Captain Morris, who was a highly respected pilot and 26-year veteran at Alaska. 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," said Alaska Airlines Vice President of Flight Operations Gary Beck.
According to the airline, Morris left his Richland home for work Sunday.
On Monday morning, he and his first officer flew a load of passengers out of Sea-Tac to Burbank.
Morris was supposed to captain a flight back to Sea-Tac Airport Tuesday morning, but never arrived.
Officials with Alaska called the hotel where he was staying, but there was no trace of him there, so they called the police.
About 12 hours later, his body was discovered.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News spoke with Morris’ neighbors after they found out about him.
“He was a really nice guy. He was just willing to help anybody, and it’s just, it’s very sad,” said neighbor Lucia Hefter. “Even if you don’t know them, you want to know. You know, how did it happen? You know, it’s just concerning.”
Investigators told media that they do not know how Morris’ body got there, and there were no obvious signs of injury and no evidence he was robbed.