R22 crash search finds helicopter just inside the breakwater of the port of Los Angeles.
While the cause of Wednesday evening’s R22 crash at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro is still unknown, daylight Thursday allowed searchers to locate the submerged wreckage of the downed R22. The helicopter was found in approximately 15-20 feet of water close to the breakwater of the port by police divers at 10 am yesterday.
The bodies of the pilot, Christopher Reed, 42 and photographer Michael Justice, 61 were pulled from the wreckage that was removed from the harbor by mid afternoon and loaded on a barge. The bodies of the men were transported to Coast Guard Station Long Beach in San Pedro for formal identification by the medical examiner, as was the wreckage where it will be inspected by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board who are charged with finding the cause of the crash.
The Robinson R22 departed Zamperini Field in Torrance around 4:30 pm Wednesday with Reed and Justice on board. Justice was a freelance photographer for the Port of Los Angeles was asked to shoot the rare occurrence of three ships departing the port at the same time by port staff. The task was only able to be accomplished by helicopter. Casey Warren, Justice’s assistant, was supposed to be with him during the flight, originally scheduled to use an R44, but was bumped from the flight due to the aircraft already being booked, forcing Justice and Reed to take the R22 to complete his photography mission.
Justice was an accomplished photographer, having worked in the past for National Geographic, Time and Life magazines among an extensive list of high-profile clients including technology giant Microsoft.
Reed was a commercial pilot that held ratings for both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft; flying was however only a part time role for Reed, who worked in the supply chain area for Honeywell Aerospace.