WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. Hours after performing for thousands of South Carolina college students, former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity DJ AM were critically injured in a fiery Learjet crash that killed four people, authorities said Saturday.
Officials said the plane carrying six people was departing shortly before midnight Friday when air traffic controllers reporting seeing sparks. The plane hurtled off the end of a runway and crashed through antennas and a fence. It came to rest on an embankment across a five-lane highway and was engulfed in flames, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Barker and DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, were in critical but stable condition at a burn center in Augusta, Ga., on Saturday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Beth Frits said. Augusta is about 75 miles southwest of Columbia.
Two other passengers Chris Baker, 29, of Studio City, Calif., and Charles Still, 25, of Los Angeles died, as did pilot Sarah Lemmon, 31, of Anaheim Hills, Calif., and co-pilot James Bland, 52, of Carlsbad, Calif., according to the county coroner. Baker was an assistant to Barker and Still was a security guard for the musician.
The plane was headed for Van Nuys, Calif. It is owned by Global Exec Aviation, a California-based charter company, and was certified to operate last year, Hersman said. The company expressed its condolences in a statement and said it was working with investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
At the crash site Saturday, the air was still heavy with the odor of jet fuel. A trail of black soot led off a runway. The nose of the aircraft was gone and the roof was missing from two-thirds of the charred plane.
"It's absolutely terrible and tragic," Columbia Mayor Bob Coble said.
Barker and Goldstein had performed together under the name TRVSDJ-AM at a free concert in Columbia on Friday night. Event sponsor T-Mobile said their hourlong set ended at about 7:15 p.m.
The show, which included performances by former Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell and singer Gavin DeGraw, drew 10,000 people into the streets of Five Points, the neighborhood near the University of South Carolina, Coble said.
Peter Kastis, Farrell's manager, said he and Farrell didn't find out about the crash until they arrived at the airport Saturday morning to find it closed.
"I just hugged them hello less than 24 hours ago. I wish I could hug them now," Kastis said.
On Saturday afternoon, several people gathered where the musicians performed the night before. Some of Barker's fans said they felt drawn to the spot.
"I hope to God things turn out OK and he gets better. He's a real good guy," said Dustin Haycraft, 23, of Columbia, who sports two tattoos modeled on T-shirts the musician designed.
Barker, 32, was one of the more colorful members of the multiplatinum-selling punk rock band Blink-182, whose biggest album was 1999's CD "Enema of the State" and sold more than five million copies in the United States alone.
After Blink-182 disbanded in 2005, Barker went on to form the rock band (+44) pronounced "plus forty-four." He also starred in the MTV reality series "Meet the Barkers" with his then-wife, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler. The show documented the former couple's lavish wedding and private life. Their later split, reconciliation and subsequent breakup made them tabloid favorites.
Goldstein, 35, is a popular DJ for hire who at one time was engaged to Nicole Richie.
He has spun a mix of hip-hop and dance beats for the hottest nightclubs and had a string of dates set up for the next few weeks. He reached the peak of his celebrity perhaps during his highly publicized romance with Richie a few years ago.
DJ AM also dated singer/actress Mandy Moore, and while he became a gossip favorite for his romances, he drew respect from music aficionados for his DJ skills.Barker and Goldstein performed as part of the house band at the MTV Video Music Awards earlier this month.
Associated Press writers Page Ivey in Columbia and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this report.