Four Bodies Recovered From Santa Monica Airport Plane Crash Site
Posted Oct. 1, 2013, 9:46 am
Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief
Authorities gained access Monday night to the fuselage of the eight-seat twin-engine Cessna Citation that crashed and burned at Santa Monica Airport at 6:20 pm Sunday. Four bodies were recovered, according to the LA County Coroner’s office -- two males and two females.
There were no survivors.
While there is still no official confirmation of who was killed in Sunday’s plane crash, it is believed Morley Builders CEO & President Mark John Benjamin, 63, and his son Luke Benjamin were two of the people on board the fatal plane crash at SMO.
Employees at the Morley Builders head office in Santa Monica were told of the news Monday morning. Morley Builders is one of the largest Southern California-based general contractors headquartered at 3330 Ocean Park Boulevard with offices in Irvine and San Diego.
It is unclear whether Mark Benjamin, a registered private pilot, was the pilot of the flight.
The twin-engine jet arrived at SMO just after 6:20 pm Sunday evening.
Authorities said the plane landed from the east and veered right as it approached the western half of the runway, crashing into a set of four hangars located in the airport’s northwest corner and erupted into flames.
The roof of the hanger collapsed onto the plane.
A man who was at SMO Monday morning and spoke to The Mirror on the basis of anonymity said he believed the jet plane had brake issues and turned toward the hangar in order to avoid colliding into the homes at the west end of the runway.
Two cranes were used Monday to lift the wreckage of the hangar that collapsed onto the luxury business jet after it crashed into the structure and burst into flames.
According to flight tracking website Flightaware.com, the plane's tail number was N194SJ, which is registered in Malibu to CREX-MML LLC, a company with an address on Morning View Drive and owned by Mark Benjamin.
The website said the plane departed Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, ID at 5:14 pm MDT (4:14 pm PST). The flight lasted two hours 10 minutes before arriving at SMO.
The plane had departed SMO on Friday 7:15 pm PST, arriving at Friedman Memorial at 10:02 pm MDT.
The runways at the airport remained closed today.