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3 Catalina Crash Victims Are Identified

May 09, 1998

Three passengers killed Thursday in the crash of a light plane on Santa Catalina Island were identified Friday by Los Angeles County coroner's officials.

They were Audrey Nizich, 24, of Long Beach; her brother, Peter Nizich, 19, of San Pedro; and Jennifer Ortega, who was believed to have been about 19, of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The identity of a fourth victim, a 19-year-old man who was the pilot of the single-engine Cessna 172, was withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Sources at Torrance Airport, where the pilot had been trained to fly, said he rented the plane there Thursday morning. Officials said the plane took off from Torrance, landed at Catalina and was headed back to the mainland when it crashed in a steep, remote canyon about four miles from Avalon.

Search parties found the plane after a signal from its emergency locater transmitter--activated on impact--was picked up by satellite.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were called in to determine the cause of the crash.

Pilots familiar with the Cessna 172 noted that with full fuel tanks, it can carry a useful load of only about 550 pounds, which usually precludes carrying four adults.

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