Councilmember Remembers the Victims of Tragic Plane Crash

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Long Beach Councilmember Gary DeLong responds to tragic plane crash with memories of Mark Bixby, Tom Dean and prayers for Mike Jensen.

On Wednesday 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.

(An update on Friday, March 18 has Jensen’s condition improving. Doctors have said that his heart and lungs are doing “extremely well. Thanks to twitter user @robertamberg for the information. For further details visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mjensen/journal.)

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

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.”

Thomas Dean

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.

Prayers for Mike Jensen

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 physician’s are top-notch, 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.

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