Feds: Doomed Crew In DJ AM/Travis Crash Thought Tire Blew
First Published: September 21, 2008 4:37 PM EDT Credit: Access Hollywood
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- 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 failing.
“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.
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