A plane crash is never good news. But when it takes the life of one of the region’s leading bike advocates, it’s doubly tragic.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Long Beach community leaders Tom Dean, Jeff Berger and Mark Bixby were among the five people killed when a small plane crashed on takeoff at Long Beach airport this morning. Mike Jensen survived the crash in critical condition; the other two victims have not been publicly identified, though one was the pilot.
Bixby, commercial real estate agent and scion of Long Beach’s Bixby Land Company, has been one of the leading forces behind the city’s recent bicycling renaissance, and the founder of the annual Long Beach Bike Festival. He has also been one of the key advocates insisting on bicycling access to the new Gerald Desmond Bridge, as well as supporting the recent revocation of the city’s bicycle licensing program.
The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reportedly took off from the runway before circling back and crashing on airport property at 10:37 am, bursting into flames on impact.
I hope you’ll join me in offering sympathy to the entire Long Beach biking community, as well as prayers for Bixby and all of his family and loved ones.
Update: According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Jeff Berger and Tom Dean were partners in a local development firm, while Mike Jenson was Bixby’s boss as owner of Pacific Retail Partners. The plane, which was owned by Dean, was reportedly on a flight to Park City, Utah for a ski trip.
Bixby is survived by his wife and three children.
Update: The Press-Telegram identified the other victim as Bruce Krall, Dean’s banker; the pilot has not been identified yet. Frank Peters of cdm Cyclist offers a moving memory of his personal friendship with Mark Bixby, and provides a link to Bixby’s blog.