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CEO, Son Believed to Be Aboard Plane in Santa Monica Airport Crash

The CEO of one of the largest construction firms in the Southland and his adult son were believed to be on board the small plane that veered off a runway crashed into a hangar after landing Sunday night at Santa Monica Airport, the company said in a statement.

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Santa Monica firefighters monitor the collapsed aircraft hangar where a private jet crashed and burned Sunday evening at Santa Monica Airport. (Credit: Dan Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

“We are aware of a plane crash at Santa Monica Airports last night. While we do not have specific facts, we believe that our President and CEO, Mark Benjamin, and his son, Luke Benjamin, a Senior Project Engineer with us were on board,” read a statement issued Monday by Charles Muttillo, vice president of Morley Construction.

Mark Benjamin was 63. His son, Luke, was 28.

National Transportation Safety Board were expected to hold a news conference Monday afternoon after sifting through the wreckage of the fiery plane crash, authorities said. No bodies had been removed from the site as of Monday morning.

The Cessna Citation, which had departed from Hailey, Idaho, went off the right side of a runway and struck a hangar at 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a fire Sunday at Santa Monica Airport, where a small plane struck a hangar after landing. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The hangar then collapsed.  NTSB investigators arrived shortly after the crash, but said the building was too unstable to enter.

Santa Monica firefighters could be seen battling the flames in the 3000 block of Donald Douglas Loop.

But they were not immediately able to access the wreckage due to the collapse of the hangar, authorities said.

“It was an unsurvivable crash,” said Capt. John Nevandro of the Santa Monica Fire Department.

Santa Monica Fire Department officials said they planned to use a large crane to lift the hangar off the aircraft on Monday, according to Gregor.

It was not known how many people were on the plane.

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