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Officials probe midair collision that killed man in car dealership

  • Story Highlights
  • Earl Smiddy, 58, dies when engine crashes through roof of car dealership
  • NTSB and FBI finish removing wreckage, body parts from commercial area
  • Two men in Cessna 150 hit broadside by Cessna 172 and ejected
  • Two planes apparently were on a Sunday afternoon pleasure flight
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Paint markings found on pieces of two planes that collided over suburban Los Angeles indicate the nose of one aircraft slammed into the middle fuselage of the other, according to a federal investigator.

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Investigators on Monday walk past the tail section of a plane lying in a car dealership.

Five people died in the accident in Corona, California, including a man on the ground who was killed when one plane's engine crashed through the roof of a car dealership where he worked, said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Wayne Pollack.

The NTSB, assisted by FBI evidence experts, completed the cleanup of wreckage and body parts that were spread over a commercial area of car dealerships, restaurants and other businesses near the Riverside Freeway Monday afternoon.

Investigators don't yet know if both single-engine planes were approaching the nearby Corona airport for landing, but it was apparently a Sunday afternoon pleasure flight for each.

The two men in the Cessna 150 were ejected after the plane was struck broadside by the Cessna 172, Pollack said. The bodies of the two men flying in the Cessna 172 were found inside the plane after it crashed to the ground, he said.

The FBI helped the NTSB mark where each piece was found, although the investigation does not involve any criminal aspect, Pollack said. The wreckage was being trucked to Palmdale, California, Monday evening. Aviation experts there will examine it for more clues about what caused the collision, he said.

There were two licensed pilots on board the Cessna 150, which was rented from a local flight school, Pollack said. One of the two people on board the other plane -- a Cessna 172 -- was licensed to fly, he said.

The victims from one plane were identified as Scott Lawrence, 55, and Paul Carlson, 73, both from Cerritos, California. The dead from the other aircraft were Brandon Johnson, 24, from Costa Mesa, California. and Anthony Guzman, 20, from Hesperia, Calif., according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office.

The car dealership employee who died was Earl Smiddy, 58, from Moreno Valley, California, the coroner said.

Weather is not believed to have been a factor since it was clear and winds were calm at the time, Pollack said.

Corona is about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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