The doomed crew piloting a Learjet in South Carolina that crashed on takeoff, killing four people and injuring two popular musicians, thought a tire blew as they hurtled down the runway, a federal safety official said Sunday.
National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman said a cockpit voice recording of the Friday night crash indicates the crew tried to abort the takeoff, but then signaled the efforts were
“The crew reacted to a sound that was consistent with a tire
blowout,” Hersman said.
Former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity disc jockey
DJ AM were critically injured in the crash, but one of their doctors said Sunday he expected them to fully recover.
Two of the musicians’ close friends and two crew members were
killed when the plane shot off the end of the runway, ripped through a fence and crossed a highway. It came to rest on an embankment a quarter-mile from the end of the runway, engulfed in flames.
Hersman said no cause of the crash has been determined and the
investigation is ongoing. She did say that pieces of tire were recovered about 2,800 feet from where the plane started its takeoff. The runway is 8,600 feet long.
The plane was traveling at least 92 mph, its minimum takeoff speed, when the crew thought the tire burst, Hersman said.
The plane was headed for Van Nuys, Calif. It is owned by Global
Exec Aviation, a California-based charter company, and was certified to operate last year, Hersman said.
Pilot Sarah Lemmon, 31, of Anaheim Hills, Calif., and co-pilot
James Bland, 52, of Carlsbad, Calif., died in the crash. Also
killed were Chris Baker, 29, of Studio City, Calif., and Charles
Still, 25, of Los Angeles. Baker was an assistant to Barker and
Still was a security guard for the musician.
The two musicians suffered second- and third-degree burns but
had no other injuries from the crash, said Dr. Fred Mullins,
medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.