News / Further

Continuing: Statements Following Mar. 16 Plane Crash By Councilman DeLong, Mayor Foster, Vice Mayor Lowenthal, Councilmembers Garcia & Schipske, El Dorado Audubon

(Mar. 17, 2011) -- Below are statements received, in written and audio form, from civic officials and entities, following yesterday's (Mar. 16) plane crash that took the lives of five people including Tom Dean, Jeff Berger and Mark Bixby and seriously injured Mike Jensen. Many of the statements below were in our original story yesterday; we've now collected them here:

Councilman Gary DeLong: (Mar. 16, evening):

Earlier today several members of the Long Beach community were tragically involved in a plane crash at Long Beach Airport. Mark Bixby and Tom Dean did not survive the crash, and Mike Jensen was critically injured.

I have had the good fortune to know each of these individuals and their families. Their children were always their #1 priority and every conversation always included a story about one of their kid's accomplishments.

Mark Bixby was a terrific leader. Mark was President of the Long Beach Rotary a few years ago, and as a fellow member, it was a privilege to be led by someone who demonstrated such charismatic leadership. He was one of the most creative individuals I have known and an outstanding photographer. Some years ago Mark called me and offered his professional assistance. He commented "Gary, you don't look very good in your campaign pictures - let me take some of you." At the end of session, he said "You're right - you're not very photogenic."

Tom Dean made many gifts to our community, in a quiet way. There were numerous occasions when a board member of a non-profit mentioned to me about a project that was made possible by Tom, without any desired recognition for his generosity. On a more public level, Tom and his partner Jeff Berger made possible the transfer of portions of the Los Cerritos Wetlands to the public domain. They were the first owners of the Wetlands property to have an earnest desire to see the land transferred to the public for future generations to enjoy.

I spent much of today at Long Beach Memorial Hospital with Mike Jensen's wife, family and friends. The Long Beach community is very fortunate to have such a wonderful medical facility in our City. The physicians are topnotch, the staff is unbelievably supportive of the patient and the family, and Mike's family and I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Jim Normandin, President of the Memorial Medical Center Foundation. Jim went above and beyond the call of duty to do anything and everything that could be done to make the best of a bad situation.

And thank you Fire Chief Alan Patalano and the Long Beach Fire Department for your quick response and outstanding professionalism.

I will greatly miss my friends Mark Bixby and Tom Dean, and ask you to keep Mike Jensen and his family in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days.

s/ Gary DeLong

Mayor Bob Foster

Mayor Foster also provided an audio statement to Community Correspondent Joe Mello (at Mar. 16 vigil for Japan earthquake/tsunami victims). To hear it, click here. His office also issued a written statement Mar. 16, below:

We carry a very heavy heart following today’s tragic accident. These were charismatic men that believed in Long Beach, made a real contribution and worked towards a better community. Our thoughts and prayers go to their children and their families in this time of unspeakable sadness.

Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal
My heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to the family members and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured in today’s plane crash. We lost a part of what makes Long Beach such a special place to live, but we are definitely the better for knowing them. I had been working with Mark Bixby to ensure bicycle and pedestrian access to the new Gerald Desmond Bridge. Among his many ideas to improve our community, I know this was very important to him, so I will work tirelessly toward the fulfillment of his vision as a fitting legacy for a person so committed to advocating for cyclists.

Councilman Robert Garcia

Councilman Garcia provided an audio statement to Community Correspondent Joe Mello (at Mar. 16 vigil for Japan earthquake/tsunami victims). To hear it, click here. On Mar. 17, he issued a written statement:

Yesterday was a terrible day for our city, and for the family and friends of those who lost their lives in the plane crash at the Long Beach Airport. When I first heard about the accident and those that were on board, I was stunned and saddened. We lost some great friends and community leaders. As you know, Long Beach residents Mark Bixby and Tom Dean did not survive the crash. Mike Jensen, also a Long Beach resident, was on board and survived, but is still in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

I knew Mark Bixby well. He was a good friend, advisor, supporter and all around great guy. I got to know Mark through his loving and wonderful wife, Theresa Bixby, who I have sat on the board with of Children Today for 5 years. Mark and I were in constant communication, usually about his plans to make Long Beach America's Most Bike Friendly City. He was an avid cyclist, and was the leading city voice on bike policy, advocacy and community engagement.

The progress we have made on bike infrastructure and bike policy would not have been possible without Mark's leadership. Mark has left an incredible and lasting legacy in our city. He, Theresa, and his family have my commitment that I will do everything I can to continue and advance his work and his projects.

Additionally, Mark was a community leader and philanthropist. He and his wife Theresa are part of our Children Today family, and have donated both their resources and time to help our city's vulnerable homeless population.

We love you Mark, you will be missed.

Mike Jensen, who miraculously survived the crash, is also a friend. Most recently, Mike and I spent time at Crema Coffee in Downtown Long Beach talking about the future of development and the local economy. Mike is also a mentor and one of the first people to support me when I ran for the City Council. My prayers are with him and his family, and I look forward to many more great conversations once he makes a full recovery.

I did not know the other men who died in the crash very well, but their deaths are equally tragic. They were Tom Dean of Long Beach, Jeff Berger and Bruce Krall.

We lost family, friends and community leaders. Yet we will move forward, be stronger, and never forget their contributions and love for their families and for Long Beach. In the next couple days, please say a prayer for Mike, and for the families of Mark, Tom, Jeff and Bruce.

God Bless their families and Long Beach,

Robert Garcia

Counncilwoman Gerrie Schipske (Mar. 16)

I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who died or were injured in today's tragic plane crash at the Long Beach Airport.

I also commend the Long Beach Fire Department and the Long Beach Airport staff for their quick response to the scene and for their continued professionalism in handling the news regarding this horrible event.

El Dorado Audubon, California Chapter of The National Audubon Society; Audubon California, Audubon So. Calif. Chapters (Mar. 16)

El Dorado Audubon learned the sad news of a plane crash that has claimed the lives of five people We are saddened to learn that Tom Dean, Jeff Berger, and Mark Bixby have died. Messrs. Dean and Berger were owners of part of the Los Cerritos Wetlands (former Bixby and other parcels*). Mark Bixby of the Bixby family lived close the wetlands. Our hearts go out to the friends and families of all five people and our prayers are with Mike Jensen who is in the hospital. [Statement emailed by Mary Parsell, 1st VP/Conservatiion Chair, El Dorado Audubon]
[*Los Cerritos Wetlands is an Audubon Important Bird Area, 200 are currently in public ownership under the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA), Messrs. Burger and Dean owned the former Bixby property including Steam Shovel Slough, site of the tank farm and at one time proposed Home Depot, and Pa's Pumpkin Patch by the San Gabriel River and Marketplace Shopping Center. Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority is: California Coastal Conservancy, Rivers and Mtns Conservancy, Cities of Seal Bch and Long Beach]

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