Australian man and British partner who plunged to their deaths after falling off a 30-metre-high wall while taking a selfie on holiday in Portugal
The Australian man and British woman who died after falling off a 30-metre wall while taking a selfie have been identified.
Michael Kearns, 33, was holidaying with his partner Louise Benson, 37, before the pair were found dead on a popular surfing beach in Portugal.
The couple plunged 30 metres off the rocky cliff after reportedly taking a selfie and losing balance sometime between 1am and 6am on Tuesday local time.
Tributes have begun to flow for the beloved couple, who left Australia in January to travel the world and had attended a friend’s wedding in Portugal just weeks earlier.
Mr Kearns was a part-time worker at energy company Chevron’s enormous Wheatstone project, a natural gas plant currently under construction in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Ms Benson, who was originally from Bristol, and a keen diver like Mr Kearns, regularly took to social media to share photos of her overseas journey – including snaps of a dive the pair enjoyed in Sri Lanka in February.
Her friends have written poignant tributes following her death, with one posting online: ‘It can be such a cruel world we live in, RIP Louise Benson yet again another great soul (taken) away from us far too early.’
In another touching tribute, a friend posted: ‘No words can describe what we have lost.
‘Louise Benson you had a passion for life. A quiet, not for long (though), Bristol girl who just loved life.
‘Your smiles infectious, your laughs amazing, your friendship invaluable and just the love you have out… in shock and speechless. You will be missed and I will miss you so much. Love you Lou, one in a million.’
In a chilling twist, Mr Kearns shared a photo of a glass of red wine on the beach with the exact 30-metre wall he would fall from just 24 hours before his death.
A beach cleaner found the two bodies in the sand beside a mobile phone early Tuesday morning at Pescadores beach in Ericeira, 30km from Lisbon.
‘Everything seems to indicate that the fall happened when they were probably trying to take a selfie,’ said Rui Pereira da Terra, head of the rescue service in Cascais port.
‘It seems they dropped their mobile phone and fell down while leaning over to retrieve it,’ he added.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that one Australian had died while the British Foreign Office said a British woman had passed away.
Pescadores beach is ringed by cliffs and a 30-metre high wall covered in shrubs.
A DFAT spokesperson said 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. Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment.’
A spokeswoman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘We are in touch with local authorities following the death of a British woman in Portugal and are providing support to her family.’
The beach is at a surfing town on Portugal’s western Atlantic Ocean coast.
It is a popular hotpot, with countless tourists uploading their pictures of the enormous wall on Instagram.