Divers recovering debris from the crash site. Courtesy Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
Divers recovering debris from the crash site. Courtesy Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

The search was continuing Monday in the ocean off San Pedro for the body of a third person killed in the mid-air collision of two small planes.

The crash occurred about 3:15 p.m. Friday, and a small debris field was found soon afterward.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, the bodies of two men were found about two miles outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The men, one 61 and the other 81, were believed to be in one plane and a woman was believed to have been piloting the second. She was identified by her husband as Mary Falstrom, 72, of Torrance.

Rich Falstrom told NBC4 that his wife had 25 years of experience as a pilot and was a flight attendant when she was younger.

“I’m sure she was just doing her normal routine and apparently didn’t see the other plane, and they didn’t see her,” he told the station.

The two men in the second plane were also from the South Bay area, a Coast Guard official said.

Their names were withheld, pending notification of relatives, according to the coroner’s office. However, one of the men was identified by friends as Martin Clement, a Catholic church deacon who worked as a financial planner.

The recovery efforts were being led by the Sheriff’s Emergency Services Detail, part of the Special Enforcement Bureau.

The remains and wreckage were located in county waters by a sheriff’s dive team with the assistance of Los Angeles Port Police, the Long Beach Police Department and county lifeguards.

The find came as a sheriff’s helicopter crew searched from the air while crews and divers aboard department boats searched on and below the ocean surface, said Capt. Jack Ewell of the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau.

“The search efforts were primarily underwater operations, utilizing three different types of sonar devices to search the ocean floor for wreckage,” Ewell said. “Remotely operated underwater vehicles were also deployed, along with divers.”

The wreckage of one plane and two victims were found in water 105 feet deep, Ewell said.

The men were aboard a Beech 35 Bonanza, and the woman was piloting a Citabria. Both aircraft were operated out of the Torrance Municipal Airport.

The crew of a fishing boat was the first to report a plane hitting the water on Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

—City News Service

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