A Southern California-based construction company is mourning the loss of its chief executive and his son, a senior project engineer, who were believed to have been killed in a jet crash at Santa Monica Airport on Sunday.
In a statement to The Times, Charles Muttillo, vice president of Morley Builders, said employees would carry on the legacy of CEO Mark Benjamin, 63, who the company said died in the crash, along with his son, Luke Benjamin, 28.
Mark Benjamin had taken over the business from his father, Morley, the company's founder.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of Mark Benjamin and his son Lucas in a tragic accident,” Muttillo wrote. “We are proud to be associated with the company that Mark’s family founded. He had a profound influence on each of our employees, the Southern California landscape, our local community, and the construction industry. We are committed to building on his legacy.”
Morley Builders is one of the largest construction companies in Southern California, with more than 200 employees and an annual work volume of more than $300 million, according to the company’s website. It specializes in reinforced concrete and steel.
The Benjamins were believed to have been aboard the twin-engine Cessna Citation that flew in from Hailey, Idaho, Sunday evening. The jet, authorities said, lost control and veered off the runway, crashing into a hangar where it burst into flames.
Two other passengers also died in the crash. Two cats and a dog were also pulled from the wreckage Tuesday. The victims’ identities have yet to be confirmed by Los Angeles County coroner's officials, who will have to use dental records, officials said.
Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that their investigation into the crash had been suspended due to the federal government shutdown.
The agency, however, is recovering the wreckage of the Cessna Citation 525 and moving it to a secure site, where it will be stored until the investigation can resume.
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