Small Planes Collide: Rescue Efforts Suspended As Recovery Operation Begins [Video]

A couple of small planes collided and crashed into the water near San Pedro, California.

A fisherman saw one of the planes fall into the water at around 3:30 p.m., this past Friday, and reported it immediately.

Although only one of the planes was seen as it collided with the water, reports from Torrance airport indicate that another small plane was due back shortly after the crash, but never made it.

According to a statement made by Captain Jennifer Williams of the United States Coast Guard, officials are assuming that both small planes collided with the water after their crash.

“We found a log book of one of the pilots. That helped us identify and ascertain that there would be two people, two male passengers in one of the aircrafts. We’ve since learned that there was another aircraft that was overdue expected into Torrance Airport. We believe that there was one female passenger in that plane that may have been involved in a midair collision.”

The two small planes, were a Beech 35 Bonanza and a Citabria, according to spokesman Allen Kenitzer from the Federal Aviation Administration. Both of the planes were being operated by experienced pilots. One of the planes was carrying a flight instructor and his student while the other was being operated by a 72-year-old woman with a passion for flying.

None of the victims have officially been identified, but Richard Falstrom spoke to the Associated Press on Saturday. He was certain that his wife, Mary Falstrom, was among the victims of the crash.

He explained that his wife had decided to go out and fly because the weather was so nice, but that she never returned home. When he heard about the small planes crashing into the ocean, he just knew that his wife was one of the victims.

After the planes initially collided, officials with the Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission.

Rescue divers were dispatched to roughly two miles outside of Los Angeles Harbor where the depth was approximately 80-90 feet. There, rescue personnel were able to find debris, including oil and part of a tail number of one of the planes.

According to Mr. Falstrom, a Coast Guard representative told him the tale number belonged to his wife’s plane.

The divers searched for survivors throughout the night, but found nothing of interest except for a small log book belonging to one of the pilots that suggested the amount of people in one of the planes.

By Saturday afternoon, it became clear to officials that they were likely not looking for survivors anymore.

“The rescue operation has transitioned to a recovery operation,” the Coast Guard said, in a statement issued to the press on Saturday.

Jack Ewell of the Sheriff’s Special Ops Bureau told the Chicago Tribute that “the odds are definitely not good” that anyone involved in the collision had survived.

“You do have to consider that planes crashed and it’s very hard to survive that in any conditions, let alone two miles out in deep water,” according to Ewell.

The Coast Guard has not given up hope that they will at least be able to recover the bodies of the passengers lost when the small planes collided. They intend to use sonar techniques and conduct diving efforts to try to find the wreckage and the victims.

They do not believe that they will be finding survivors in their efforts.

The last time planes collided in the same area was in 2001. At that point, four people (including two flight instructors and two students) were killed. Before that, two small planes collided in 1986.

[Photo by AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes]