Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected Monday morning to begin investigating the wreckage from a jet crash at Santa Monica Airport that authorities believe killed all passengers on board.
Authorities have offered scant details in the wake of the crash, in part because of trouble accessing the jet.
A twin-engine Cessna Citation coming from Hailey, Idaho, veered off the right side of the runway Sunday night and crashed into a nearby storage hangar, authorities said. Both the structure and the jet burst into flames and the hangar collapsed.
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- Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, CA 90405, USA
A Santa Monica Fire Department official at the scene Sunday told reporters that there could not have been any survivors. Authorities have not said how many people were on the plane, and it was not clear what caused the jet to crash into the hangar.
The high temperature of the jet-fuel-fed fire combined with the fact the hangar collapsed around the plane made it difficult to access the wreckage or read the jet’s tail number. That made it difficult to identify those on board, sources told The Times.
Multiple media outlets reported that a crane would be necessary to lift the hangar off the plane early Monday morning.
Jack Bonner, a 15-year-old sophomore at Santa Monica High School, was with a friend at his home on 21st Street Sunday night when he heard a loud boom "like a thunderclap."
"I was like, ‘Wow, what the heck is going on?’" Jack said. He turned on the TV and saw that a plane had crashed at the airport.
David Goddard, chairman of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, said he was driving to his home in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Santa Monica soon after the crash when he looked down Airport Avenue and it appeared as though “the fog had rolled in.”
Goddard said he could smell the burning fuel, and when he got out of his car to survey the damage, he saw a piece of the plane’s fuselage lodged underneath the collapsed doors of a building.
“Apparently the fireball was pretty big because there was brush on the north side of the building that was far away that had burnt,” Goddard said.
The Cessna business jet is registered to Creative Real Estate Exchange LLC, according to the firm's website. The owner of the plane lives in Malibu but is not named in FAA records.
The plane had made eight flights since Sept. 15, according to flight tracking websites, including four between Hailey and Santa Monica.