One of the first responders to a fiery South Carolina plane crash said Wednesday that Travis Barker and DJ AM escaped the flaming wreckage by sliding down the wing.
“They said the plane went down. They didn’t say how or if they knew,” said Lt. Jason Shumpert of the South Congaree Police Department. “Once it went down, they were able to slide down the wing of the plane, and they jumped on each other to put fires on each other out and rolled around on the ground.”
Shumpert said he didn’t know until later that the two badly burned men were former Blink-182 drummer Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein. One of their doctors at a Georgia burn hospital said he expects them to fully recover from their second- and third-degree burns.
A video of the Friday night crash scene shot from Shumpert’s police car shows an inferno next to the road, with screams ringing out above the din of sirens of ambulances and fire trucks. Shumpert said the screaming voice belonged to Barker, who was trembling and seemed to be in intense pain as he sat on the sidewalk, waiting for medical help to arrive.
“Travis, you could tell he was in pain,” Shumpert said. “He just kept saying: ‘That’s my friends in the plane, that’s my friends in the plane.”’
Pilot Sarah Lemmon, 31, of Anaheim Hills, Calif., and co-pilot James Bland, 52, of Carlsbad, Calif., died of smoke inhalation and burns within minutes of the crash. A South Carolina coroner has said Chris Baker, 29, of Studio City, Calif., and Charles Still, 25, of Los Angeles, close friends of the musicians, died on impact.
Barker, 32, was one of the more colorful members of the multiplatinum-selling punk rock band Blink-182. DJ AM is a popular DJ who was also a tabloid favorite for some celebrity romances.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board have not said what caused the crash. A cockpit voice recorder revealed that crew members thought a tire blew and tried to abort the takeoff. The Learjet shot off the end of the runway, ripped through a fence and crossed a highway before coming to rest, engulfed in flames.
NTSB officials, who have recovered pieces of tire from the runway, planned to return to Washington on Thursday. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which made the tires, has said it is cooperating with the investigation.
A spokesman for a clothing company Barker owns said Tuesday the drummer had been through several surgeries and was trying to keep an upbeat attitude. Regardless of what caused the crash, Shumpert said both men are lucky to be alive.
“It was divine intervention that they got out,” he said. “They should be commended for being able to get out and keep their heads together.”