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Santa Monica Plane Crash Victim Remembered As Loving Daughter, Humanitarian

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RED POINT (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Coroner on Friday officially named Lauren Winkler as one of four victims killed in a plane crash Sunday at Santa Monica Airport.

But her grieving parents, Gary and Carole Winkler, of course already knew their 28-year-old daughter had perished in the accident.

“The whole experience has been a nightmare. I wake up broken every morning. I go to bed every night broken,” said Gary.

The Winklers spoke to CBS2’s Melanie Woodrow about the loss of their only daughter.

“She was on that plane for two and one-half days before they could even get to the body. Then she was in the coroner’s office for another two days before they could identify the body even though we all knew who she was and we all knew she was on the plane. We had to wait and wait and wait and wait,” said Winkler.

Their wait over, the Winklers were finally able to bury Lauren and afterwards came to Reef Point to celebrate her life.

“She packed everything into her 28 years that she possibly could,” said her father.

That life, says her parents, included time spent in Israel where Lauren worked with a favorite charity, Save A Child’s Heart Foundation. The group provides free open heart surgery in Israeli hospitals for needy children from around the globe.

Lauren was a volunteer, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Her parents, three brothers, closest confidantes and extended family are now hoping their broken hearts might lead to more hearts being mended.

“There’s nothing we can do to bring Lauren back,” says her dad, “but perhaps what we could do is save some other children’s lives. I think that would be a wonderful thing for us and a wonderful thing for her memory.”

For more information about Save A Child’s Heart, click here.

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