Recovery efforts continued Monday for the third victim in Friday’s mid-air collision between two aircraft near the Long Beach Harbor, with authorities having already located the remains of two victims and wreckage of one plane Sunday afternoon.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau Tactical Dive Team continued its sonar and air search Monday for the missing plane with the assistance of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), Los Angeles Port Police (LAPP), and Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) lifeguard divers.
The agencies recovered wreckage of one plane and the remains of two victims—both men—during search efforts Sunday. The recovery, made at about 2:00PM, was about two miles outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in county water, according to LASD SEB Capt. Jack Ewell.
LASD air rescue and boat personnel conducted surface area searches throughout Sunday as search efforts continued mostly underwater operations using three different types of sonar devices to search the ocean floor for wreckage, LASD officials stated.
During the search, which included the use of remotely operated underwater vehicles to assist divers, one of the planes and two victims were located in water 105 feet deep.
Officials believe two aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision Friday, February 5 at about 3:00PM near San Pedro under unknown circumstances, according to Allen Kenitzer, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A small debris field was located shortly after.
The aircraft were a Beech 35 Bonanza, with two men aged 61 and 81 aboard, and a Citabria, piloted by a 72-year-old woman. Both aircraft were operated out of the Torrance Municipal Airport.
The woman was identified by her husband as Torrance resident Mary Falstrom. Rich Falstrom told NBC4 that his wife had 25 years of piloting experience and was a flight attendant when she was younger.
“I'm sure she was just doing her normal routine and apparently didn't see the other plane, and they didn't see her,” he told the station.
A Coast Guard official said the two men in the second plane were also from the South Bay area. One of the men was identified by friends as Martin Clement, a Catholic church deacon who worked as a financial planner.
The coroner’s office has not yet identified the three victims.
The crew of a fishing boat was the first to report a plane hitting the water on Friday.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the incident.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Special Enforcement at 323.881.7800. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222.TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.
City News Service contributed to this report.