FOX 11 Loses One Of Our Own In Hiking Accident - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

FOX 11 Loses One Of Our Own In Hiking Accident

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Martin Burns pictured with Araksya Karapetyan at a FOX family function. Martin Burns pictured with Araksya Karapetyan at a FOX family function.

It is a time of great sadness here at FOX 11 LA. Martin Burns, a FOX 11 Investigative writer and producer, died Sunday in an apparent accident while hiking near Altadena. Another hiker found his body in a ravine below the trail leading to Inspiration Point in the Angeles National Forest. Preliminary reports indicate Martin died from injuries sustained when he fell off the steep trail.

We'll be sharing stories about Martin from the people of FOX 11 to help others understand just how special a person he was and how great a loss his death is.

From Kingsley Smith, VP News Director:
"Martin Burns made me feel welcome in a new place. He made a personal difference in my professional  life every day.  Whenever he stopped by to share a story, I saw the deep passion and dedication  in his work and projects. Put simply, he was a  caring soul. He never complained and always worked with grace and dignity. He is on the short list of people that NO ONE ever complained about, ever. I will miss him. This newsroom will miss him. Our viewers will miss him."


From Gina Silva, Investigative Reporter:
"A week ago, I sat down with my colleague Martin Burns, a producer in our investigative unit.  We talked about our future stories and joked that we couldn't wait to retire so we could start living a 'life of leisure'.


We often talked about giving it all up. But truthfully, Martin loved what he did. He was passionate about his work, always putting in extra hours and even investigating stories on his time off.  His mission was simple: get some kind of justice for people who were scammed or hurt by a corrupt system. Yes, Martin's heart was always in the right place.

Today when I came in to work, I was pulled into a private area and given the sad news. "I'm sorry Gina, Martin is dead."   What came after that is a blur to me.  None of it seems real, but it is."

This weekend, Martin went hiking alone in the Angeles National Forest near Altadena. On Sunday afternoon, a hiker found his body in a ravine below the trail that leads to Inspiration Point. Investigators believe he lost his footing and fell from the steep trail.  

Martin Burns, you will be missed. May you rest in peace.


From Weather & Social Media Anchor Maria Quiban:
"The passing of Martin has hit us all so hard...he's a member of our family and we can hardly believe it. It seems surreal...I can't help but feel that I will still see him and his shy smile come out of the elevator tomorrow. He truly is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  Martin, I know you are near, please know how much you meant to us and that we are going to miss you very very much."


From Anchor Araksya Karapetyan:

"There is that saying, you know the one-  live each day as if its your last...  

The truth is how many of us really do that? The reality is we get caught up in the daily grind pretty much everyday. Everyday errands, problems, issues, if we really were to know it was our last day I am sure we would do things differently, wouldn't we?

This week got off to a tough start, I was hit with some sad news first thing Monday morning - one of my co-workers died this weekend.

Completely unexpected, completely random, completely tragic.

Not a lot of details at this point, all we know right now is that he went for a hike, fell and that was it. In an instant, he was gone.

Martin Burns was someone I worked with on a number of projects. He was what you might call an investigative field producer - he gathered, organized, researched, investigated, and wrote some spectacular pieces that usually aired during our 10 o'clock newscast.  He was behind the scenes (most of the time) sometimes you heard his voice asking tough question, or you saw his hand holding a FOX 11 microphone as he pressuring those who had broken some kind of law, cheated the system in some way, to be held accountable.  I had the honor of working with Martin on pieces I am very proud - investigative pieces on prescription drug fraud,  welfare fraud,  child care scams,  illegal birthing centers, just to name a few. Working with him was incredibly fulfilling- it's what being a journalist is all about- going out there, digging, researching, doing something for the community, by uncovering abuses in the system and giving the voiceless a voice.

But to be honest Martin's work isn't the only thing that I am going to remember him for. I will remember him for all of our conversations and the time we spent together. We had some great chats about life and people over coffee and lunch as we planned out our stories. Every once in awhile I would swing by his office to say hello, and he would take a break from the piles of notes on his desk to catch up. Whenever you saw Martin down the hall or in the newsroom, he was always on the go- with papers and pen in hand,  scripts all marked up, cell phone ready to make calls, he was always working. There were a number of weekends I saw him around, hammering away at something or another. I would always ask him what he was working on and he would show me an endless list and say something like "it'll get done, I don't know how but it will, it always does."

Martin was a quiet guy, he kept to himself most of the time- just focused on the task at hand. But once you got to know him, he wasn't shy at all. He had plenty to say,  a sense of humor and a very distinct laugh. 

To be honest I feel like this isn't real... that I will see him down the halls again someday... I guess this whole thing hasn't really sunk in. In fact, the truth is, the last time I saw him it was probably about a week ago. I remember thinking to myself, I should shout out a hello or wave across the newsroom, but I was in the middle of something and thought I'll just catch up with him later. Well... That's never going to happen now.

Which brings me back to, living each day as if it is your last- never put things off until later. Especially when it comes to people. The harsh reality is we just don't know how things will play out in life. Maybe he knew that, because no matter how busy he was, he always had time to stop, say hi, and flash a quick smile, as he rushed off to complete some assignment with a pressing deadline. 

Martin will be missed in our newsroom. For his dedication, work ethic, kindness, generosity and heart. It isn't just about the contributions he made to our newsroom that I am going to miss.... Martin wasn't just a colleague, he was a friend."


From Gerri Shaftel Constant, Medical Producer:
"I will miss you Martin Burns. Martin, an amazing and talented investigative producer, put his life on the line repeatedly to chase stories. He was the guy the rest of us worried about. Martin survived close encounters with flying bullets, and cross-border drug wars. I can't imagine the loss to his son and my colleagues who worked most closely with him. Life is too short."


From Anchor Christine Devine:
What a lovely person! I so enjoyed Martin Burns. I was happy to see him get the hours at work. I met Martin when he was first brought in to work some special projects. He was bright, eager, professional and competent. I was always excited to get to work with Martin as I knew it would be an in-depth story, something I rarely got to do. I was deeply a saddened hearing of Martin's death. He was, to me, truly one of the good guys. FOX 11 News was a better place thanks to Martin's presence. He always seemed so positive and appreciative. Sending love and prayers to his family.


From Reporter/Anchor Gigi Graciette:
"I had just finished reading the Monday morning news wires when one of them hit home. And hard.

It was was titled "Dead Hiker" and talked about the body of a male hiker having been spotted by another hiker. The yet unidentified man appeared to have died from a fall.

Five minutes later I learned it was a friend and Fox 11 colleague, Martin Burns.

"What!?!? Are they sure?", I asked, somehow thinking it could be some horrible mistake. 

Sadly, it wasn't. 

Martin, by all accounts an avid hiker, is dead. The man behind the news; a news producer is now in the news. And for all the wrong reasons.

Martin worked our investigative unit and I last worked with him on the Maternity Hotel specials that aired in February. You might remember the series of story's about tourists reportedly coming here just to give birth. Well, Martin was the man behind that series. Researching it; doing the legwork for six months before I was called in to put the final touch on it. 

We next worked together on a federal raid on some automotive shops suspected of selling "nozz" so teens could get high. Martin's many hours of research and undercover work made that story, with exclusive material no one else had.

Martin's job could be a stressful, 24/7 high pressure gig but he certainly seemed to love and thrive on it. Not to mention, he did it extremely well. 

Fate came a calling much sooner than expected; much sooner than is fair and Martin will be missed and remembered by many. 

My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in peace, Martin."


From Reporter Hal Eisner:
"This is tough. It's hard to believe Martin Burns has passed away. What an incredible loss. But, he was an incredible guy! His journalistic pieces, often powerful, are a testament to that. Whenever I'd see Martin in the newsroom I'd say "Hey, when do I get to do a Martin Burns story!!!" I'd tell him "I wanted to win some more Emmys!" He'd always smile and chuckle a little. We will miss him. I will miss him!"


From Assignment Editor Warren Cereghino:
"Martin was the most congenial person in this newsroom.   I do not have that same reputation, but he and I got along very well just because he was the ultimate friendly, smiling, ready-to-laugh guy.  He is already missed a ton around this workplace.  Professionally, he was without peer: he did work for us that would test his physical courage time and again, but he never backed down in pursuit of an unusual story.  I respected his work and I admired him as a human being.   We have a big hole in our heart here."


From Ramon Nunez, Manager, News Operations
"I've  read his text over and over.  It was just last Friday.  It ends with "Thanks Ramon, Let me know if I made mistakes" and of course, he didn't.  That was Martin.  The consummate pro and always looking to improve any way he could.  He was eager to try out some new equipment I had just finished putting together.  His project approved and equipment ready for use.  The project awaits, equipment stands ready…. Martins presence is missed in the hallways of the investigative unit and the Newsroom that was his tool chest.  His smile is one that won't be forgotten for a long time to come. Rest in Peace Martin."


From Reporter/Anchor Phil Shuman:
"Martin Burns was a  guy we all loved and loved working with.  He was passionate, dedicated, tireless, creative, and funny.  I , like all of us, just cannot believe he is gone. It made us all stop and thing how valuable every day is. Martin and I did countless stories together, from recent stories on the danger of Marijuana ''Wax'', to the Mexican drug cartels, to people ripping off the system, to internet scams, to medical scams, you name it. We even went all the way to Florida to track down an alleged ''bad guy'' who was running a company that let you use the internet to 'launder' money using anonymous names. We spent a lot of time sitting in a car in 100 percent humidity outside the target's home waiting for him to leave. We got him to talk to us. Martin always '' got his man'' as they say.  He knew what he was doing and how to make dramatic television that was also fair and balanced. When it came to a story, Martin set it up, figured it out, explained it all to me, wrote it , produced it, and championed it as we debated a word or a phrase or a sound bite here and there....... the same as he did with almost every story he worked on.. and he did it without ever getting any of the ''credit'' or '' glory'' if you want to call it that which comes with being on TV... he wasn't into it for the ''thanks'' or the '' credit'' he was in it cause he loved to tell good stories, he loved to ''right a wrong'' he loved to expose wrongdoing.. and he was so good at it. Like so many of us, we're just in shock.. I think we can all honor Martin by staying committed to doing ''Big J'' journalism and exhibit the passion and dedication and hard work that defined him.  And he always had a smile on his face. I'll miss that."


Mark Tickell, Editor
"I have worked with Martin for many years as his editor on Fox Undercover work.

I had not heard about Martins passing till this morning. When I got back to my edit bay, my cell phone, on the desk spontaneously dialed his number.  Yes his number is in my favorites, but usually a phone is in your pocket when this happens. 

A little later my phone rang receiving a call from Martins number, this time it was Dan Leighton, Fox Undercover head, calling on Martins phone.  So I got to talk with him and ask about his son.

Martin would always talk glowingly about his son, Remy, well sometimes there were issues, like all fathers face. But he loved him like the world.  He often talked of his sons musical talents and creativity.  In the middle of a deadline on the phone, telling him he would be home soon.  He always wanted to be with him.

I am sure I have been feeling the Joy of Martin's spirit around me today.  The spirits nature is joy, and though it is always with us, most of us don't feel it in life.  

I imagine he would like to say, Remy have no fear in life, that it's all going to work out.

Just do the right thing, like Martin always tried to do in his life and do it with enthusiasm!"



From Anchor / Reporter Susan Hirasuna:

I've been on vacation but bad news travels and I was so sad to hear about the death of producer Martin Burns.  I didn't have the privilege of working with him on one of his projects, but my work was definitely influenced by him.

I was researching a story about a grandfather trying to get custody of his granddaughter.   His son had died and the girl's mother was an addict and unable to care for the little girl.  Child Protective Services should have immediately granted the grandfather custody, he is the closest blood relative to her.  Instead she went to a foster family.

The story is complicated and perhaps not quite as black and white as I've painted, but it was Martin who tried to help me understand why something like this could happen.  He told me about other cases where child welfare workers didn't do the right and obvious thing; cases that made me grateful I never had to deal with such power over me or my sons. 

Martin told me that the training for child welfare workers is often lacking and oddly, he told me that he had read a study that found a majority of these workers don't have children of their own.  He told me about a woman who lost custody of her child, where the social worker essentially told her she didn't like her and that precipitated her child's removal from the home.

And then Gabriel Fernandez died; a story I covered with a reporter's trained stoicism.  But after my last live shot, I went home and cried. He was the little boy in Palmdale, beaten to death this year. His mother and her boyfriend are now awaiting their trials for murder.

I interviewed Gabriel's first grade teacher who told me she had called the social worker multiple times.  She and others tried to get the boy taken away from his mother and the abusive household.  We now know Gabriel died with a fractured skull, he was shot with BBs and burned with cigarettes.  We know that because the Co. Coroner released the autopsy report.  But, if Martin or any other journalist had tried to look into Gabriel's claims BEFORE he had died, we would have been stonewalled.  As a rule, CPS would not release information on any of their charges.  That's what's called protecting the child's privacy.

But those who've had run ins with CPS say it's a veil of secrecy that protects the agency from scrutiny.

In Gabriel's honor and because of other similar cases, there are people pushing to make CPS more transparent, to remove the veil of secrecy, not just here but in other states as well.   And, if someone had asked me who could best make a smart, articulate, passionate argument for transparency, who would fight for the next Gabriel and a journalist's right to look into cases like his... without hesitation, I would have said, go find Martin Burns.




From Writer / Producer Tim Langford: 

Martin was one of the most cheerful and likeable people I knew. I always made a point of chatting with him whenever I saw him. He'd tell me stories about confronting some of the ne're-do-wells he came across in his investigative reporting. We'd share a laugh about that. But he never had anything but good comments about his co-workers. He was a really great guy and I'll miss him.



From Editor Burke Ewing:

It's 9:50pm and I'm still working on a sweeps piece for the 10 o'clock news. I look over to my left, as my heart pounds, and there sits Martin Burns with a warm smile saying, "Don't worry, everything's fine." That's just a typical example of what a cool, calm, collected and beautiful person Martin was. I always enjoyed working with him as his passion for doing his very best was obvious. I will miss him and his happy spirit very much. It really was an honor working with such a good guy. He will live on in my thoughts and prayers and my deepest sympathies and condolences to all his family and friends. Martin, you will be missed, my friend. I love you. Rest in peace.

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