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Two Baltimore men die in climbing accident in Spain

Two Baltimore men died Sept. 14 while rock climbing on Mallorca, a popular resort island off the coast of Spain.

Mark Anthony Bacolod Stiles, 35, and Brandon Burns, 25, were killed when a rockslide knocked them off a cliff and into the water off the southeast coast of Mallorca, said Jim Burns, Brandon’s father.

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Jim Burns said Spanish authorities told him that the local coast guard attempted to revive the men, but that they were unsuccessful.

The pair were passionate rock climbers and friends who met at St. Moses Church in Baltimore and had been traveling Europe together, visiting London, Paris and Berlin before their deaths, according to Jim Burns.

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Brandon Burns, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, worked as a project engineer for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. in Baltimore.

His father recalls a young man who cared deeply about his faith and had a love for life that was infectious.

“He was a mini me. He was a smaller version of me with his mother’s personality, God bless her, thank you for that,” Jim Burns said. “He was very personable.”

Jim Burns said his son played the drums any chance he got and was eager to travel the world, dreaming of one day working abroad with Engineering Ministries International to build infrastructure for communities in poverty.

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“He knew what he wanted to do and he was working toward those goals,” Jim Burns said. “I am proud of him.”

Mark Anthony Bacolod Stiles, 35, and Brandon Burns, 25 died rock climbing in Spain.
Mark Anthony Bacolod Stiles, 35, and Brandon Burns, 25 died rock climbing in Spain. (Handout)

Bacolod Stiles was the executive director of the 1C9 Leadership Foundation and had previously worked for The CASH Campaign of Maryland.

His former colleagues remember a man who brought light to difficult situations.

“The CASH team were leaning on one another for support during the quarantine, and we were often delighted by Mark’s humor and positive outlook during virtual staff meetings,” said Sara Johnson, the nonprofit’s co-founder and chief operating officer, in a statement.

Bacolod Stiles’ family could not be reached for comment.

Bacolod Stiles was also a member of Sowebo Community Church where he led an online bible study group.

“Mark was a devout follower of Jesus, full of adventure, and dedicated to serving his community,” said Brian Zubek, executive director of Sowebo Community Church. “He brought passion and determination to every event he was part of.”

Zubek said Bacolod Stiles cared about community outreach and had been working with a climbing group on Frederick to create programs for kids in the city to experience the outdoors.

Michael Lyons, who met Bacolod Stiles at church and later became his rock climbing partner, said he practiced martial arts, was learning to salsa dance and loved his friends beyond measure.

“The things that he was passionate about, he was all in to the fullest, his faith, climbing, his friendships; he was an extremely loyal friend,” Lyons said. “He was very loved by a lot of people.”

On Facebook the day before his death, Bacolod Stiles shared a post that read: “It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.”

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