Sheriff's Department Loses 4 in Plane Crash

Times Staff Writer

Authorities Monday identified the four victims of Sunday's airplane crash in Newhall as longtime members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

All died when their single-engine plane crashed into a mountain in heavy rain and fog about 1 a.m., narrowly missing storage tanks at an oil refinery.

The pilot was identified as Lt. Harry Parson, 50, a 27-year veteran of the department. He was traveling with his wife, Deputy Therese Pinocchio, 38, a 13-year veteran of the department. The couple lived in Long Beach, and had four children--two sons, 25 and 28, and two daughters, 24 and 29.

Parson worked in the department's contract law enforcement bureau. Pinocchio was assigned to the emergency-operations bureau in Whittier, which responds to major disasters such as earthquakes.

Also killed were Capt. George E. Reed, 43, commander of the Men's Central Jail, and his wife, Deputy Rosemarie Reed, 47, of Glendale.

George Reed had worked for the department for more than 20 years, and his wife, who worked in the department's court services division, was an 18-year veteran. They had two children, a daughter, 22, and a son, 24.

Department spokeswoman Deputy Roxanna Schuchman said Parson was an experienced flyer.

The two couples were returning from a day trip to Bullhead City, Ariz., and were heading for Brackett Field in La Verne when the plane crashed, Schuchman said.

The route through Newhall is out of the way, but often is chosen by private pilots flying back to the Los Angeles Basin in bad weather because the clouds around the mountains tend to be higher, thus improving visibility, said Sgt. John McLean, a Sheriff's Department pilot.

From the Newhall area, the pilot could have followed the Foothill Freeway east toward La Verne, authorities said.

They said the pilot appeared to be following the Antelope Valley Freeway when the plane drifted off course near the Golden State Freeway and struck the mountain.

The plane, a Cessna 182, narrowly missed storage tanks and power lines when it came down on the grounds of the Newhall Refining Co. on Clampitt Road.

"It could have very easily come within 100 to 200 feet of the refinery itself," said Capt. Mike Brownlie of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Newhall station. "It could have been a very disastrous situation. Most things they have there are volatile, some even toxic."

The four-seat aircraft belonged to the Tin Star Flying Club based at Brackett Field.

The cause of the crash remained undetermined Monday and was under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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