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CO-PILOT SAYS HE CHECKED FOR ICE

The co-pilot of the USAir jet that crashed in a snowstorm at La Guardia Airport, killing 27 people, told investigators he looked at the wings as many as 10 times shortly before takeoff and saw no ice.

Thirty-year-old John Rachuba was interviewed at his hospital bedside for more than 31/2 hours Wednesday. The pilot, Wallace Majure, was among those killed in the crash Sunday night."As he taxied out, he looked back at the wings several times - at least three times, he said it could have been as many as 10 - to check for ice," said John Lauber, the National Transportation Safety Board's chief investigator of the crash.

But New York Newsday quoted unnamed investigators as saying a passenger who identified himself as a private pilot screamed out in warning before takeoff because he saw ice on one of the wings.

The plane, a twin-engine Fokker F-28 bound for Cleveland with 51 people aboard, careened into Flushing Bay on takeoff.

The jet had been de-iced at 8:26 p.m. and again at 8:59 p.m., but it had to wait until 9:30 p.m. to take off, raising questions about whether enough ice and snow had built up on the wings to affect takeoff.