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California Briefing / Long Beach

Body is found in midair collision

May 22, 2009|Dan Weikel

The body of a man killed in a midair plane collision off the coast of Long Beach was discovered by divers Thursday about five miles from shore.

Los Angeles County sheriff's rescue divers located the body about 80 feet under water, near the wreckage of a Cessna 172 involved in Monday's crash, said Sgt. Jack Ewell. The body has not been identified.

But the names of the flight instructor and student pilot believed to have been killed in the crash were released Thursday, a day after the wreckage of their Cessna was discovered about five miles from the Port of Long Beach.

Friends and relatives said the missing fliers are James Chang Choo, 32, of Torrance, an instructor at Aero Aviation Flight School in Long Beach; and his student, Thomas Ferrell, 31, who was visiting relatives in Westminster and preparing to move back to the United States from the Netherlands.

Divers from the Sheriff's Department discovered the wreckage about noon Wednesday, authorities said.

The midair collision occurred about 5:45 p.m. Monday and involved a twin-engine Cessna 310, which had been taken on a pleasure flight by the owner, Gary Gierczak of Los Alamitos.

Neither his aircraft nor his body have been found yet, authorities said.

-- Dan Weikel

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