FELTON (CBS / AP) — A Santa Cruz County man who died after falling 250 feet off a cliff in the Santa Cruz Mountains has been identified as an 87-year-old man who was a decorated war veteran.
Authorities say Joseph Vavak was killed when he fell off the side of the cliff as he worked with a gardener Thursday afternoon clearing brush on his property that overlooks the San Lorenzo River near Felton.
Vavak’s son, Michael Vavak, said his father was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after being wounded twice while serving with the infantry in World War II.
Felton Fire Chief Ron Rickabaugh says after the fall, emergency crews spent several hours working on recovering Vavak’s body.
In addition to his son Michael, Joseph Vavak leaves behind two daughters, Debra and Susan, and nine grandchildren.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)