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2 bodies pulled from sunken helicopter at Los Angeles harbor

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Two bodies were pulled Thursday from the sunken wreckage of a helicopter that crashed inside the Port of Los Angeles breakwater, authorities said.

The men were pulled from the fuselage of a Robinson R22 two-seater aircraft that went down Wednesday on a photography flight. Searchers using sonar located the craft in 15- to 20-foot deep water, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

Although they had not been officially identified, the bodies were believed to be those of a pilot, Christopher Reed, and a photographer, Michael Justice, who was on an assignment for the port, authorities said.

Both men were described as experienced and accomplished. Justice had traveled the world on photographic assignments, with subjects that included Mother Teresa.

The small black helicopter took off from the airport in Torrance Wednesday afternoon. At about 5:45 p.m., passengers aboard an outbound cruise ship reported seeing a helicopter plowing toward the water, according to the Coast Guard.

An air-and-sea search was immediately launched but nothing was found until Thursday morning.

Justice’s godson, Casey Warren, told KABC-TV that Justice had gone up to photograph the cruise ship.

“A sunset shot, we booked it for an hour,” he said of the helicopter. “I was supposed to be on the craft with him and I got booted because the R-44 that we wanted wasn’t available so he went up in a 22. It only seats one.”

“He never came home,” Warren said.

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