Two missing in copter crash off Catalina
Lifeguards rescue five passengers and pilot
Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1981
AVALON (AP) - Divers resumed their search today for a man on his honeymoon and a small boy feared dead in the crash of an amphibious helicopter just 300 yards off Catalina Island.
Five other passengers and the pilot were injured when the Catalina Airlines helicopter, completing a 15-minute-flight from the Los Angeles mainland, crashed near the island's shore and sank in 240 feet of water Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
The two passengers presumed dead by authorities were trapped inside the wreckage as it sank. They were identified as Miguel Ortega, 24, of Maywood, Calif., whose bride of two days, Gloria, 18, survived, and Lior Levy, 5, whose parents and two brothers also survived.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Ward Finch said divers should have no trouble spotting the sunken craft in the clear Catalina water 26 miles off the Southern California coast.
"We are looking at two points, and we understand it may be down in about 250 feet of water," Finch said. "If it is, we may have to request special diving gear. Scuba divers are limited to about 125 to 150 feet."
Finch said depending on the underwater terrain where the craft has settled, searchers may have to don deep-sea diving equipment or even a mini-sub or diving bell to reach the wreckage.
The survivors were taken to Avalon Municipal Hospital where pilot Walter Pinkerton, 32, of Manhattan Beach, was in serious condition with chest and neck injuries. A Coast Guard helicopter took him to Torrance Medical Center, where he was later reported in stable condition.
Other survivors were Maurice Levy, 42, of Encino, his wife Clara, 30, and children Meir,14 and Joseph,11. All were treated for cuts, bruises, exposure and shock and were reported in good condition except for Joseph Levy, who was in serious condition with a compound fracture of his right leg.
Lt. Paul McIlroy of the Los Angeles County Lifeguards said two lifeguard paramedics jumped into their 31-foot rescue boat and rushed to the survivors in the Catalina Sikorsky S-62A about 300 yards offshore from Pebbly Beach after the 2:45 p.m. crash.
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