Denison man fell 50 feet from cliff in Austin


by SHELTON GREEN and photojournalist ERIN COKER


Posted on April 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM

AUSTIN -- A man who fell to his death 50 feet from the cliff overlooking the Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the 360 Bridge, Sunday night was identified Monday as 63-year-old Phillip Lloyd Short of Denison, Texas. 

According to rescuers with the Austin Fire Department, Short was on the northwest cliff of the bridge watching the sunset with his family and taking pictures when the accident happened.
“We don't know the exact reason that he fell. We do know that he'd been up there taking pictures, things like that, but we don't know what made him actually fall,” said Lt. Jim Baker with the Austin Fire Department.
Lt. Short told KVUE Monday that rescuers with AFD’s Special Operations Unit respond to somewhere from one to three technical rescues from high-angle cliffs such as Mount Bonnell and areas near the Pennybacker or 360 Bridge every year.
“It's a great view. I've come up here to think, and it's a great place to get some thoughts and personal thinking,” said Daniel Zivkovic, an Oklahoman who frequented the Pennybacker Bridge when he went to high school in Austin.
The popular vantage point on the northwest corner of Highway 360 and the Pennybacker Bridge is actually the right of way which is owned by the Texas Department of Transportation. There are neither warning signs nor railings on the property leading up to the top of the cliff and some want to keep it that way.
“I don't think there should be a guardrail. I like to sit on the edge and hang my feet and relaxing,” added Zivkovic.
Lt. Baker with AFD also offered advice to anyone planning to hike up cliffs in the Austin area:
-Hikers should always allow for enough daylight to get back to their vehicles. Take a flashlight if you think you’ll get stuck after dark. Lt. Baker says that’s when most accidents happen is during the dark when people are trying to make it back to their vehicles.
- Never hike up the cliffs alone. If you get in trouble, there’s someone with you who can call for help.
- Always pre-hydrate before climbing the cliff trails.
The number one cause leading to most falls from cliffs in the Austin area is people trying to get that perfect picture says Lt. Baker.  The second leading cause to falls usually includes alcohol.