Media people

Photographer dies in Port of LA copter crash

michael-justice-grab.jpgScreen grab of Michael Justice.

The two fatal victims of a Wednesday night helicopter crash inside the breakwater in San Pedro include photographer Michael Justice. The former shooter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, South Bay Daily Breeze and Wall Street Journal more recently had corporate and editorial clients. He was up capturing images of cruise ships on assignment for the Port of Los Angeles when he died. Witnesses on board a ship said the helicopter spun out of control and went into the water near Angels Gate lighthouse last night. Searchers did not find the wreckage until today.

The other body recovered from the helicopter is believed to be pilot Christopher Reed. Today would have been Reed's 42nd birthday, the Daily Breeze reports. They took off yesterday from JJ Helicopters at Torrance Airport aboard a two-seat Robinson R22 aircraft.

Justice was 61. Friend Branimir Kvartuc, the photographer who is also the communications director for City Councilman Joe Buscaino, posted on Facebook that "Michael loved photography and lived for it." At a press conference today, at which port officials praised Justice, Kvartuc said "the photojournalist community in any city is a small community, we’re like a family. I’ve known Michael for 20 years. I’ve known him, I’ve worked with him and I’ve flown with him.”

Kvartuc is quoted in this story from brand-new Fox 11 reporter Matt Johnson.

Justice grew up in Torrance, lived in San Pedro and recently had been working on his memoirs, the Daily Breeze story says.

As of Thursday afternoon, officials said there was still no indication of what caused the crash.

Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter circling the Star Princess before spiraling downward and hitting the water just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.

By late that night, the presumed identifies of the two on board were being pieced together by friends and family.

One of those loved ones, Casey Warren, was Justice's godson and photo assistant. He had been scheduled to go along on Wednesday evening's photo shoot but the helicopter available only had two seats — not room for him.

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