Santa Monica plane crash victim identified

9:33 AM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
One of the four victims of a plane crash in Santa Monica, Calif. was identified Friday morning. The plane was registered to a company in Metro Atlanta. (KNBC)
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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KNBC) -- One of the four bodies pulled from the wreckage of a fiery plane crash at Santa Monica Airport this week was identified Friday morning, but the coroner has yet to confirm the two men already assumed to be dead in the crash.

Lauren Winkler, 28, of Irvine, was one of the four who died in the wreck, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.

The twin-engine Cessna Citation veered off the runway after landing Sunday and crashed into a storage hangar. The burning wreckage sent a column of black smoke over the airport as the metal hangar collapsed around the plane.

RELATED | Jet that crashed in Calif. had ties to Ala., Ga.

The plane was registered to a company in Metro Atlanta.

Responding fire officials described the crash and fire as "unsurvivable."

The coroner's office determined the remains were those of two men and two women. Two cats and two dogs also were aboard the plane.

Two other victims were named by friends and family but have not yet been confirmed by the coroner. A statement released Monday by Morely Builders, a Santa Monica-based construction contracting company, said CEO Mark Benjamin and his son, Luke Benjamin, a senior project engineer, were aboard the plane.

The company is behind some high-profile buildings in Southern California, including the new shuttle Endeavour wing at the California Science Center, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles and the Getty Villa Museum.

Coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter told NBC4 that the federal government shutdown that began Tuesday might force the NTSB to suspend its investigation.

NTSB officials said there is "an indication" the plane had a cockpit voice recorder. The pilot did not indicate there was a problem with the plane and authorities could not confirm Monday that the landing gear's tire was damaged during the landing, NTSB officials said.

(KNBC Los Angeles)

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