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Search for Plane Crash Victims Called Off

Accident: Families of the two missing men thank the rescue teams for their efforts. Four died in the collision near Long Beach Harbor.

February 18, 2001|SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Divers ended their search Saturday evening for the two remaining victims of Thursday's midair collision near the entrance to Long Beach Harbor, with the approval of the families of those missing, authorities said.

"We've had them here for two days and kept them up exactly on what we found," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Kerry Kingery, referring to relatives of Kevin Sok, 33, a Cambodian native who lived in Long Beach, and Michael Wallace, 18, of La Habra Heights, a student pilot on his first flight.

The two missing men's families expressed their thanks to the search teams in handwritten notes Saturday.

"We will miss Michael while he soars with the angels," Wallace family members wrote in the letters made public by the Coast Guard and Long Beach Fire Department.

Sok's family shared similar sentiments. "We are saddened by his loss, but happy at the same time that he passed away doing what he loved to do, and that is 'FLYING,' " they wrote.

Only a 5-foot piece of their Cessna 152 was recovered, Kingery said.

No further diving operations are planned, although the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation.

The two single-engine planes were from the Long Beach Flying Club. Each was on a training flight and each was carrying an instructor and a student when they hit each other at 1,000 feet.

The wreckage of the second plane, a Cessna 172, was located Friday, as were the remains of Stephen Arlow, 42, a flight instructor trainee. The body of the plane's pilot, John Michael Chisolm, of Huntington Beach, was recovered minutes after the crash.

A sonar picture of the ocean floor on Saturday did not reveal any other large pieces of debris, Kingery said.

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