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Four killed in S.C. plane crash; musicians hurt

Sunday, September 21, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Hours after performing for thousands of South Carolina college students, former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity DJ AM were critically injured in a fiery Learjet crash that killed four people, authorities said Saturday.

Officials said the plane carrying six people was departing shortly before midnight Friday when air traffic controllers reporting seeing sparks. The plane hurtled off the end of a runway and crashed through antennas and a fence. It came to rest on an embankment across a five-lane highway and was engulfed in flames, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Barker and DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, were in critical but stable condition Saturday afternoon at a burn center in Augusta, Ga., hospital spokeswoman Beth Frits said. Augusta is about 75 miles southwest of Columbia.

Two other passengers -- Chris Baker, 29, of Studio City, Calif., and Charles Still, 25, of Los Angeles -- died, as did pilot Sarah Lemmon, 31, of Anaheim Hills, Calif., and co-pilot James Bland, 52, of Carlsbad, Calif., according to the county coroner. Baker was an assistant to Barker and Still was a security guard for the musician.

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. The company expressed its condolences in a statement and said it was working with investigators to determine the cause of the crash.

At the crash site Saturday, the air was still heavy with the odor of jet fuel. A trail of black soot led off a runway. The nose of the aircraft was gone and the roof was missing from two-thirds of the charred plane.

"It's absolutely terrible and tragic," Columbia Mayor Bob Coble said.

Barker and Goldstein had performed together Friday night under the name TRVSDJ-AM at a free concert in Columbia. Event sponsor T-Mobile said their hourlong set ended at about 7:15 p.m.

The show, which included performances by former Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell and singer Gavin DeGraw, drew 10,000 people into the streets of Five Points, the neighborhood near the University of South Carolina, Coble said.

Peter Kastis, Farrell's manager, said he and Farrell didn't find out about the crash until they arrived at the airport Saturday morning to find it closed.

"I just hugged them hello less than 24 hours ago. I wish I could hug them now," Kastis said.

Barker and Goldstein had also performed as part of the house band at the MTV Video Music Awards earlier this month.


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