File photo
File photo
File photo

SMO — A tire blowout was not the cause of last month’s fatal Santa Monica Airport crash, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation and Safety Board on Thursday.

“The three landing gear tires were inflated and exhibited no unusual wear patterns,” the report stated, invalidating initial speculation that a popped tire may have been what caused the Cessna to veer off the right side of the runway and crash into a hangar, killing all four passengers.

No debris was found on the runway, according to the report, and no distress radio calls were made to the control tower before landing.

The crash, which killed Morley Builders CEO Mark Benjamin, 63; his son, Luke, 28; the younger Benjamin’s girlfriend Lauren Winkler, 28; and Kyla Dupont, 53, occurred just days before the federal government shutdown. NTSB officials performed all time-sensitive tasks and then halted investigation until after the shutdown was resolved.

Investigators restarted their work last week.

Crash evidence is in an NTSB facility in Arizona. It could take months for the NTSB to issue a final report.

The Benjamins, Winkler and Dupont were returning to Santa Monica from Hailey, Idaho, a frequent trip Mark Benjamin made as a member of the Idaho Conservation League’s board of directors. He also owned a second home in Ketchum, which is about 12 miles north of Hailey.

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