Columbia, SC Learjet Crashes On Take Off, Sep 2008

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The crash of a Learjet in South Carolina that killed four Southern Californians stunned rock music fans Saturday with news that the two badly burned survivors are former Blink-182 drummer TRAVIS BARKER and popular DJ ADAM GOLDSTEIN, both of Los Angeles.
BARKER, 32, who not only played drums in the platinum-selling band but also starred in his own MTV reality show, and GOLDSTEIN, 35, known as DJ AM and the owner of the Hollywood hot spot LAX, were in critical but stable condition Saturday at Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., said hospital spokeswoman Beth Frits.
The fiery crash shortly before midnight Friday in Columbia, S.C., killed CHRIS BAKER, 29, of Studio City and CHARLES STILL, 25, of Los Angeles, both members of BARKER'S entourage.
Also killed were pilot SARAH LEMMON, 31, of Anaheim Hills and co-pilot JAMES BLAND, 52, of Carlsbad, Calif., according to the Lexington County coroner's office.
STILL'S aunt said a crowd of friends gathered throughout the day Saturday at their Riverside home as word of her nephew's death spread. "There are guys crying just like ladies would cry," Vacie Thomas said.
The small plane, en route to Van Nuys, was taking off at Columbia Metropolitan Airport when air traffic controllers saw sparks. Officials described what happened next as a "high-speed overrun."
The jet veered off the end of the runway, plowed through a perimeter fence and then crossed a roadway before slamming into a berm, where it became engulfed in a "significant fire," said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.
The flight took off several hours after BARKER and GOLDSTEIN'S show Friday, which included performances
by former Jane's Addiction singer Perry Ferrell and singer Gavin DeGraw. It had drawn about 10,000 people into the streets of the Five Points neighborhood near the University of South Carolina, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble told the Associated Press.
The plane was operated by Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach and was certified to operate last year, an NTSB official said.
A 10-member NTSB team walked the crash site and retrieved the cockpit voice recorder, which was rushed to a lab in Washington, D.C. Because of the ferocity of the fire, investigators were unsure
of the viability of the recording.
Global Exec spokesman Mark Shafer declined to comment. He said the company is sending a management team to South Carolina to cooperate
with the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration. The company's website states that it caters to corporate clientele, including
"many VIPS in the entertainment industry."
Relatives of co-pilot BLAND gathered at the Redondo Beach home of his sister Laura Bland, who described her older brother as a veteran flier who began his career at age 17.
He logged 20 years of helicopter pilot duty for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and also spent time in the air for police departments in Santa Ana and Laguna Beach. A family man, BLAND shared his Carlsbad home with his wife, Anne, 46, and 16-year-old daughter, Erin.
"He always said this could happen,"
Laura Bland said in a phone interview. "But of anybody we knew, he was just so conscientious that we didn't expect this at all. When he was a little kid, my grandfather would take him to the Orange County airport and watch the planes take off, and he'd say,
'I'm going to do that someday!'"
Shafer declined to release information about pilot LEMMON, and her family could not be reached for comment.
The two passengers who died, STILL and BAKER, worked for rock star BARKER. STILL, nicknamed Che, was a longtime friend of BARKER and sometimes worked as a bodyguard when the drummer performed in small shows.
BAKER, nicknamed Lil' Chris, worked as a personal assistant to BARKER and had appeared occasionally on MTVs "Meet the Barkers," the domestic life reality show that followed the drummer, his wife and their children in 2005 and early 2006.

The Los Angeles Times California 2008-09-21