Divers recover 2 bodies, wreckage near site of San Pedro plane crash

Rescue personnel were called out to investigate a possible mid-air collision between two small planes Friday off the coast of San Pedro.

Rescue personnel were called out to investigate a possible mid-air collision between two small planes Friday off the coast of San Pedro.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Divers recovered on Sunday the remains of two people and plane wreckage off the coast of San Pedro as the search continued for evidence of a suspected midair collision of two small planes.

The two victims were found about 100 feet below the surface in waters about two miles from the Los Angeles Harbor, said Capt. Jack Ewell of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department.

The names of the victims was not known. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office will identify the remains, Ewell said in a statement.


Crews have canvassed the waters near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach since Friday, when a suspected midair crash occurred between the two small aircraft. At least two people, and possibly a third person, are missing and presumed dead, said sheriff’s Sgt. Aura Sierra.

Two men — one 61 and the other 81 — were believed to be in one of the planes reported down, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson said. The men have not been identified.

The crew and passengers on a private fishing boat originally alerted the Coast Guard about 3:30 p.m. Friday that they saw a plane plunge into the water, Anderson said.

A small debris field was located near the Point Fermin Lighthouse, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there appeared to be two aircraft on radar before the crash, both of which then disappeared, which led investigators to believe there had been a collision.

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According to preliminary information, one aircraft was a Beech 35 Bonanza and the second, a Citabria, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.


It is presumed the planes collided under unknown circumstances, he said.

Local authorities say that two people were aboard the Beech Bonanza and one person was onboard the Citabria, Kenitzer said.

So far, officials confirmed that wreckage from only one plane has been recovered. It’s unclear if the debris found Sunday was from a different aircraft.

“We can’t confirm a midair collision until we actually recover parts from two planes, but we believe that to be the case. It’s likely,” Sierra said.

The plane carrying the two passengers filed a flight plan and flew out of the Torrance Airport, Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard suspended an active search for survivors Saturday morning, turning the investigation and recovery efforts over to the Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from Los Angele County life guard divers and Los Angeles Port police.

The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating.

Sheriff’s divers wrapped up their search efforts late Sunday afternoon and will resume Monday, Ewell said.


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