Perth man identified as Portugal 'selfie' fall victim
The devastated mother of a Perth man who fell 30m to his death from a cliff will travel to Portugal to make arrangements to bring home her son’s body.
Michael Kearns, 33, and his British partner Louise Benson, 37, are believed to have died early on Tuesday local time after the fall in the popular tourist town of Ericeira, about 35 kilometres north of Lisbon.
Local media reported a beach cleaner found the couple at the bottom of the high embankment and that a mobile phone found nearby indicated they might have been taking photographs before they fell.
Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã reported authorities were investigating whether a “selfie” might have been the cause of the accident.
Corfina Media reported police will speak to witnesses who said they saw the pair sitting on the wall with their legs facing the beach.
“Everything seems to indicate that the fall happened when they were probably trying to take a selfie,” Captain Rui Pereira da Terra of the nearby Cascais Port rescue service said.
“It seems they dropped their mobile phone and fell down while leaning over to retrieve it.”
The couple’s bodies were taken to a medical centre while authorities contacted the Australian and British embassies in Lisbon.
Mr Kearns was a fly-in, fly-out worker on Chevron’s Wheatstone project in the Pilbara and was a keen recreational diver in his spare time.
His mother said yesterday the couple had left Australia in January on a holiday and had attended a friend’s wedding in Portugal in recent weeks.
Mr Kearns’ parents were notified of their son’s death about 1am and were later visited by WA Police.
A DFAT spokesperson confirmed it was providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian who died in Portugal.
“The Department has been in contact with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding the other person who died in the incident,” the spokesperson said.
“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment.”
Ericeira is a coastal town regarded as Portugal’s surfing Mecca. Its beach is a popular photo spot for tourists thanks to its cliffs and high walls.