Jet Crash Fuels SMO Debate
Opponents of the Santa Monica airport are calling again for its closure following Sunday evening's fatal jet crash. "It is time to shut this airport down," Los Angeles city councilman Mike Bonin said in a Twitter post. "There have been more than 80 crashes related to this airport since 1982. Meanwhile, nearby residents are suffering from harmful jet fuel emissions." Residential neighborhoods have grown around the airport since it was built in 1917, and surround the runway on all sides. On Tuesday morning, the local coroner said four bodies had been found in the wreckage of the Cessna Citation CJ2, which crashed into a hangar while attempting to land at the airport. The airport remained closed on Tuesday as investigators examined the site.
Although no official announcement has been made regarding the victims' identities, a construction company based in Santa Monica said on Monday it believed that its chief executive, Mark Benjamin, 63, the owner of the CJ2, and his son Luke, 28, were on board the airplane. Some reports said Luke Benjamin's girlfriend might also have been on board. At least one aircraft and several other vehicles were destroyed in the hangar fire. NTSB investigators had to wait for two cranes to arrive at the airport to remove parts of the hangar before it was possible to gain access to the jet's cabin and the cockpit recorders on Tuesday. Despite frequent protests from neighbors and local officials, the FAA has supported keeping the Santa Monica airport open, citing a 1948 agreement that says the city will operate it "in perpetuity."