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Long Beach Man Named as Chopper Crash Pilot

The explosive crash Sunday remained under investigation by the FAA and Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner, who identified the pilot.

The pilot killed in Sunday’s helicopter crash at the Corona Municipal Airport has been identified as James Bechler of Long Beach, the Riverside County Coroner's Office announced Tuesday.

According to the Coroner’s Office, Bechler, 61, died shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday, moments after the helicopter he was piloting crashed at Corona Municipal Airport.

Investigators are working to determine what caused the four-seat Robinson R-44 to crash. According to a preliminary report from the Federal Aviation Administration, the chopper struck a canopy at the fueling station area of the airport and exploded.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said a National Transportation Safety Board investigator at the crash scene reported that the helicopter's rotor blades struck the canopy that sits over the fuel pumps.

"However, we don't know the sequence of events or circumstances behind the accident," Gregor told City News Service.

The chopper was registered to Bechler’s law offices in Las Vegas, according to FAA registration records. There also is an Orange County law firm bearing his name.

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