University of Florida student from West Palm Beach dies in fall from balcony

Posted at 9:07 AM, Oct 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-25 06:23:15-04

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A 20-year-old University of Florida student has died in a fall from a third-floor balcony at an apartment complex.

Gainesville Police Department Lt. Paris Owens tells news outlets that witnesses called police when they saw Ian Burns fall shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday.

An incident report says Burns was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital. It didn't indicate when he died, but police said foul play was not suspected.

The report also didn't say how Burns fell.

His family, who lives in West Palm Beach, was notified of his passing, according to Gainesville Police Lt. Audrey Mazzuca, The Independent Florida Alligator reported.

Gainesville police later confirmed to WPTV that Burns was a Palm Beach County resident.

Friends, Local Church Remember Student

For the Rev. James Cook with St. Mark's Episcopal Church And School, it's hard to hold back the emotion when he thinks of  Burns, who loved to sing.

"Many tears have been shed and many more will be shed. And answers and words come hard, even people of faith," said Cook.

He watched Burns grow up in his church the last 11 years, sing in the choir and perform in plays. Now he's gone.

"I find it hard even though we trust God in all things, it's still hard," said Cook.

Detectives are not releasing details, except to say they do not suspect foul play.

For now, those who know Burns, would rather talk about his passion for music, both at church and at his school Suncoast High School.

Kathy Acerra, his former choir director at the church said, "I will remember Ian he was such an enthusiastic musician. Music was a very important part who he and his sisters were as well."

She will also miss his great sense of humor. 

"Even as an adult, he would always try to sing the soprano part. And I would always have to tease him and say Ian I need you to sing your part, not the women's part not the girl's part. And he would say but I like that part better and I can hit those high notes."

"I will always remember him in that choir here this little boy walking in and singing and singing and then stepping up and becoming a leader is a wonderful memory," said Cook.

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