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Sun, Jun 08, 2003

Four Confirmed Dead In LA Apt. Crash

Two More Bodies Found Saturday

The death toll in Friday's crash of a Beech Bonanza BE-35 into a Hollywood (CA) area apartment building has risen to four. Still, as if to keep stoking the potential for anti-GA frenzy; federal officials on the scene keep saying that it doesn't look like a terror attack--over and over again.

The search continues Sunday for clues as to why the Bonanza, which had just taken off from Santa Monica Airport, crashed at approximately 3:45 p.m. PDT. The pilot of the aircraft, flying VFR, conversed normally with the control tower at Santa Monica and was told to switch frequencies to talk with TRACON. He never showed up on the other frequency. Without explanation, the aircraft dove-nose first into the roof of the apartment complex.

"Huge Explosions"

Residents of the building in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles ran the gamut of emotions on Saturday. Many, like actor Larry McQullan, were still in shock as they tried to recover what was left of their lives from the burned-out building. "Big explosions shook the building - actually snapped off my door frames," he recalled. "I opened the door and there was fire toward the front of the hallway. We grabbed the dogs and got out."

Kevin Du Toit, who lived with his family in the apartment building, was ecstatic to have escaped with his loved ones. Du Toit says it's a miracle his children are even alive. "It's a great day. It's a blessing. It's a miracle, that's what it is," he said. "Because my kids should (have been) sleeping, and their bedroom is right next to where the plane went straight through."

Seven people have been hospitalized in the wake of the accident. The aircraft, which was consumed in the resulting explosion and fire, remains unidentified, as does the pilot and any passengers he may have had on board.

Sifting Through The Rubble

Rescue and recovery teams found what they think are the pilot's remains, along with one other body, Friday. Saturday, two more bodies were found buried deep within the rubble of the 14-unit apartment building. Although everyone thought to have been in the building at the time of the crash has been accounted for, LA Fire Department officials say they're continuing the search, on the off-chance they might have missed something.

FMI: http://www2.faa.gov/avr/aai/iirform

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