sunset cliffs san diego
Eye-witnesses say Joshua Burwell fell off a cliff in San Diego because he was looking at his phoneGoogle Streetview

A 33-year-old man from Indiana fell to his death from cliffs in San Diego on Christmas Day because he was trying to take a selfie on his mobile phone, eye-witnesses reported. Joshua Burwell had reportedly jumped out of a car and was trying to take a selfie as the sun set when he fell 60 feet to his death.

Bill Bender, from San Diego Lifeguards, told a local NBC affiliate: "Witnesses stated seeing someone distracted by an electronic device and he just fell over the edge. (He) wasn't watching where he was walking, he was looking down at the device in his hands." He added: "Just like driving and using a cellphone, you don't want to be walking and using a cellphone or be distracted or anything."

Three "Good Samaritans" clambered down the cliff in a bid to save Burwell, but to no avail. 13-year-old Thor Wilink said he heard Burwell screaming for help. '"After that I heard 'does anyone have rope and a lapel', and I know because I go to Yosemite, so I grabbed that, went down to the cliffs, and started to untangle the rope. I only had one priority, to save the person."

Burwell's mother Sharyle confirmed her son was the victim on Facebook. She posted: "Nothing will lessen this pain except time. Treat each other with love and kindness. You never know how quickly things can change. Thank you all for the many kind words and the many prayers! They are much appreciated and have given me comfort. Much love, Sharyle."

Since the rise of the "selfie" phenomenon, a number of deaths have been linked to the craze. These have included people falling from buildings, shooting themselves by accident and crashing their cars while using their mobile phones. Recently a Polish couple on holiday in Portugal fell to their deaths in front of their children aged five and six, as they attempted to capture the moment on camera.

We found out today that Joshua was killed in a fall while taking pictures from the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean in San Diego. We are heartbroken.

Posted by Sharyle Burwell on Saturday, 26 December 2015