The Coast Guard ended the search for a downed helicopter in the Port of Los Angeles late on Thursday morning when members of the Los Angeles Port Police dive team located it just inside the harbor breakwall.
Now that the aircraft has been found, the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles has been reopened to all vessel traffic. It was closed overnight while authorities searched for the wreckage.
On Wednesday at about 1740 hours, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach received a report from passengers aboard an outbound cruise ship that a small helicopter had gone down near the Los Angeles breakwall. The Coast Guard launched two 45-foot boats from Coast Guard Station LA-Long Beach, an MH-65 helicopter crew from Coast Guard Forward Operating Base Point Mugu and the 87-foot Coast Guard patrol boat Blackfin to search for the helicopter. The Los Angeles Port Police, Long Beach Harbor Patrol and Los Angeles City Fire Department also had several water assets searching.
Both the pilot, Christopher Reed, and his passenger, photographer Michael Justice, were killed in the crash. The model of the helicopter, the popular Robinson R22, has occasionally come under scrutiny for its safety record: over 160 people have died in R22 crashes in the U.S. over the design's four decades in operation. Robinson says that the aircraft's record has improved over the years, with fatalities per flight hour falling.
The two men were on a routine flight to take photos of three cruise ships, a port spokesman told the LA Daily News. Justice was an accomplished photojournalist and freelance photographer, and had worked with the Port of Los Angeles for years. Reed was an experienced pilot who also worked as a logistics and supply chain executive with Honeywell.
An example of Justice’s work for the port follows below.