Posted by . on February 01, 2004 at 01:15:23:
In Reply to: Plane crashes off the LA breakwall posted by Max Bottomtime on January 31, 2004 at 23:48:44:
Small plane crashes of L.A. breakwater
Witnesses detail craft's dive; weather likely not a factor, officials say.
Sunday, February 01, 2004 - SAN PEDRO -- Divers recovered the body of a man from the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed a quarter-mile off the coast of San Pedro on Saturday.
Two men fishing on the breakwater saw the plane make a low-angle, seemingly controlled descent into the water between Cabrillo Beach and the Angel's Gate Lighthouse just before 10 a.m., said Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
"It wasn't a high-angle impact, not at a high rate of speed,' Savage said. "The men said that it sank within a minute, and they did not see anyone exit the plane before it went down.'
People aboard a nearby pleasure boat also witnessed the crash and immediately radioed authorities, initiating a massive multiagency search-and-rescue operation involving about 100 people, eight boats and six helicopters.
Within minutes, personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Long Beach Fire Department, Long Beach Police Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department and its Lifeguard Division, Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Lifeguards arrived on the scene.
"The cooperation between agencies was phenomenal, which is what you'd expect in the harbor area,' said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Lance Jones.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration knew of "no aircraft missing from air traffic or any overdue arrivals,' rescue workers continued to scour the area.
"During the first two hours of the search, we were unaware of any planes being missing,' said Capt. Garth Canning of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division.
Arriving on the scene within 10 minutes, firefighters aboard the Long Beach Fire Department's Rescue Boat 2 spotted some debris floating near an oil slick, said LBFD spokesman Wayne Chaney.
Hovering overhead, the crew of the Long Beach Police Department's Fox helicopter also assisted in narrowing down the initial search area, said LBPD spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.
Divers from several agencies searched the cold, murky waters beyond the breakwater, able to see only 2 to 6 feet in any direction, Jones said.
The wreckage was finally found at 2 p.m., 52 feet below the surface of the water. Divers extricated the body of a man from the mostly intact plane. Authorities could not confirm on Saturday if the man was the only passenger aboard the plane, Jones said.
The identity of the victim and the tail number of the plane were not released, pending notification of next of kin, he said.
Although rescue workers at the scene declined to speculate on the cause of the crash which will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board they didn't believe that the weather was a factor.
"Visibility was fine this morning. It wasn't foggy,' Jones said.
With darkness swiftly approaching, efforts to raise the plane and bring it to shore were suspended until 7 this morning, Savage said.
Canning said that air bags inflated by scuba tanks will be used to lift the plane closer to the surface. If the plane's structural integrity is not severely compromised, it will be towed to shore. If the plane seems to be in danger of falling apart, it will be hoisted onto a barge.
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