Morley Builders released a statement Wednesday morning following the loss of its CEO and his son in Sunday’s fatal plane accident at Santa Monica Airport.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of Mark Benjamin and his son Lucas in a tragic accident,” the statement said. “Mark has been our President and CEO since 1981 and Luke was a Senior Project Engineer. 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 Southern California-based general contractors headquartered at 3330 Ocean Park Boulevard with offices in Irvine and San Diego.
The outpouring of support has begun to flow from throughout the Santa Monica community.
Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Laurel Rosen said Mark Benjamin was "a friend to many of us."
"He was an important part of the Santa Monica Community, who not only supported the Chamber over the years but gave of himself to many organizations," Rosen said. "Our hearts go out to his family, we will all miss him."
Santa Monica businessman Nat Trives said Mark Benjamin's memory will indelibly be left for all to cherish in the years to come.
"When I learned that my friend Mark and his son were victims in the tragic crash at SMO, I cried as if he were a member of my family," Trives said. "He was a quiet loving human being who had been a confidant of mine for years. He was a giant in the philanthropic world of our community and I imagine the many non-profits he and his company have supported over the years are all deeply saddened by this news."
While there is still no official confirmation of who was killed in Sunday’s plane accident, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office is expected to identify all four bodies today – two males and two females.
It is still unclear whether Mark Benjamin, a registered private pilot, was the pilot of the flight.
The twin-engine jet arrived at SMO just after 6:20 pm Sunday evening.
Authorities said the plane landed from the east and veered right as it approached the western half of the runway, crashing into a set of four hangars located in the airport’s northwest corner and erupted into flames.
The roof of the hanger collapsed onto the plane.
A man who was at SMO Monday morning and spoke to The Mirror on the basis of anonymity said he believed the jet plane had brake issues and turned toward the hangar in order to avoid colliding into the homes at the west end of the runway.
Two cranes were used Monday to lift the wreckage of the hangar that collapsed onto the luxury business jet after it crashed into the structure and burst into flames.
According to flight tracking website Flightaware.com, the plane's tail number was N194SJ, which is registered in Malibu to CREX-MML LLC, a company with an address on Morning View Drive and owned by Mark Benjamin.
The website said the plane departed Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, ID at 5:14 pm MDT (4:14 pm PST). The flight lasted two hours 10 minutes before arriving at SMO.
The plane had departed SMO on Friday 7:15 pm PST, arriving at Friedman Memorial at 10:02 pm MDT.
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