FAIRFAX CRASH TOLL NOW 4, INCLUDING THREE ON PLANE.
Coroner's investigators on Saturday pulled three bodies from the charred Fairfax District apartment building torpedoed by a single-engine airplane Friday, and were searching for one more victim in the wreckage.
Officials did not identify the victims; however, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jim Wells said three people were in the Bonanza BE-36 that took off from Santa Monica Airport 10 minutes before nose-diving into the apartment complex. The fourth was someone inside the 15-unit building.
Seven people were injured. The most serious, photographer and waiter Casey Cunningham, 25, was upgraded to stable condition at Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks early Saturday. He suffered second- and third-degree burns over 18 percent of his body when he ran through the smoke and flames to get to safety, spokeswoman Jamie Feldstein said.
Cunningham's wife, Andrea, who is 22 weeks pregnant, was at work when the crash occurred. He had been watching a D-Day remembrance program on television when the plane hit and the living room erupted in flames.
``They lost everything in the fire, including two cats,'' Feldstein said. The pungent smell of smoke hung over the corner of Spaulding Avenue and Clinton Street where firefighters were working to remove the wreckage Saturday.
The plane pierced the roof of the three-story building at 601 Spaulding Ave. and went straight through to the basement garage, Capt. Bill Wick said Saturday.
While the crash does not appear to have been intentional, the possibility has not been ruled out, officials said. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause, which could take several months to determine, officials said.
Firefighters searched the second and third floors Friday and discovered the body of one victim - a building occupant - who appeared to have been in the third floor hall but was crushed to the second floor, Wick said.
A second victim was found in the plane debris, and a third victim was pulled from the wreckage Saturday evening. The fourth has not been recovered.
``Our goal tomorrow is to unearth the debris and see if there are any more victims,'' Wick said Saturday. All residents in the building had been accounted for, he added, but fire officials did not know whether there were visitors.
The American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles set up a evacuation center at Fairfax High School. About 45 people registered, but nobody used the shelter.
About half a dozen building residents came back Saturday to get necessities from their apartments.
A one-block radius around the apartment complex was closed to onlookers. Several people tried to learn the whereabouts of Tibor Reese, a Holocaust survivor in his 80s who lived in the building but who hadn't been seen at temple Saturday and wasn't on the Fire Department's hospital list.
``Nobody's seen him, nobody's accounted for him,'' said Pearl Lewinger.
Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 3746
The remains of a victim from Friday's airplane crash in the Fairfax District are loaded into a coroner's vehicle Saturday afternoon.
Evan Yee/Staff Photographer