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3 Killed in Midair Collision Identified

August 24, 2004|Zeke Minaya | Times Staff Writer

Investigators recovered the wreckage Monday of two small private planes that collided in midair off Malibu on Sunday and identified the three who died.

Dr. John Zasadny, 57, was traveling with girlfriend Jenifer Williamson, 37, both of Torrance. He flew a Thorp T-18 home-assembled plane that flew out of Torrance Municipal Airport. John Rossato, 48, of Malibu was piloting a Bellanca Citabria that was based at Santa Paula Airport in Ventura County. Both planes were two-seat, single-engine aircraft.

Divers recovered Zasadny's plane, which was in 15 feet of water, 100 yards from El Matador State Beach. The wreckage of the second plane washed ashore.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators will study the mangled planes. Witnesses told NTSB officials that the planes clipped wings about 5:30 p.m.

Investigators should be able to determine how the crash occurred based on "damage to the aircraft and the transfer of paint between the two planes," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, a safety board spokesman. "Why it happened will be harder to determine," he said.

Most small aircraft don't have flight recording devices, said Dick Wood, president of an L.A. County chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Assn.

Last fall, Zasadny was honored by the Torrance City Council for "valiant actions" following a midair collision between two helicopters at the Torrance airport, when he rushed to help the victims.

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