The wreckage of a tour helicopter and the bodies of a pilot and passenger were found Thursday in the Port of Los Angeles, just hours after a cruise ship passenger watched the aircraft plunge into the sea.
Los Angeles Port Police used sonar equipment to locate the black Robinson R-22 helicopter at 11:08 a.m. near the breakwater that juts out from Cabrillo Beach, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson. The Coast Guard has suspended its search efforts on the water.
Police were working to recover the helicopter and bodies, which were under 15 to 20 feet of water, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.
“It’s going to take some time,” he said.
The helicopter was reported down Wednesday about 5:45 p.m. by a passenger aboard a cruise ship that was departing the harbor, Anderson said.
Several other people in the area called 911 notifying dispatchers of the aircraft, which was believed to have crashed near the Angels Gate Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits at the end of the breakwater.
The helicopter is registered to JJ Helicopters Inc. and took off from Zamperini Field in Torrance for an aerial photo shoot, Anderson said. The Torrance-based company provides tours.
The pilot and passenger did not report back to the Torrance airbase, Sanfield said.
The Coast Guard said it is trying to determine if any distress calls were made.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Harbor entrance near the Angels Gate Lighthouse was closed for recovery efforts, and a 1,000-foot safety zone was in effect. Cruises and cargo ships were rerouted to the Long Beach entrance, so operations could continue at the Port of L.A., Sanfield said.
Jan. 5, 12:40 p.m.: This article was updated with news that the crashed helicopter and two bodies were found in the Port of Los Angeles.
Jan. 5, 8:50 a.m.: This article was updated with details about the search efforts and comments from Los Angeles Port Police.
This article was originally published Jan. 4 at 9:05 p.m.