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A pilot was found dead after a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter on Tuesday, June 18, discovered the wreckage of a helicopter that had crashed on the west side of Catalina Island.

Smoldering debris was found just before 10 a.m. Tuesday north of the Isthmus on a hillside, said Sky Cornell, a Los Angeles County Fire Department inspector.

Sgt. Craig Harman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Avalon Station confirmed the aircraft as a helicopter.

The pilot, who was not identified, was known to take recreational flights from Torrance to Catalina Island, where he would fly over before returning, Harman said.

He would not always land on the island, Harman added.

The Sheriff’s Department received a call from the Air Force Coordination Rescue Center after the pilot reportedly hadn’t returned for 16 hours, Harman said.

A search and rescue was initiated and authorities started by searching the last coordinates the helicopter was known to be, Harman said.

“They found the wreckage there,” he said. “We did have precise longitude and latitude.”

An aircraft had been reported missing just before 9:30 p.m. Monday, Cornell said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified Monday afternoon of a missing Robinson R44 helicopter scheduled from Torrance to Avalon, said spokesman Allen Kenitzer, who added the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board plan to investigate.

The smoldering fire was contained to the wreckage and had not spread to brush, Cornell said. There was no threat to structures.

Sheriff’s Department personnel were on scene to investigate the cause of the crash, Harman said

The U.S. Coast Guard command center received a report of an overdue helicopter with one person aboard in the vicinity of Catalina Island about 9 a.m. Tuesday morning and assisted in the search, the agency said in a release.

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