Coroner's Office Confirms Luke Benjamin As Fourth Person In Fatal SMO Accident

Sunday, 6 Oct 2013, 10:25:00 AM

Brenton Garen

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office confirmed Sunday that Luke Benjamin, 28, was the fourth body in the fatal Santa Monica Airport aircraft accident last Sunday evening.

Los Angeles County Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter on Friday identified the other three bodies as 63-year-old Mark Benjamin, of

Malibu, 53-year-old Kyla Dupont, of San Diego, and 28-year-old Lauren

Winkler, of Irvine.

Mark Benjamin is the CEO and President of Santa Monica-based Morley

Builders. A registered private jet pilot, it is believed he was at the


Mark Benjamin had been President and CEO of the company since 1981; Luke worked at the company as a Senior Project Engineer.

According to Winkler’s employer’s website, she was Luke's girlfriend.

The website she was a fundraiser and executive for an organization

called Save A Child’s Heart, which provided free open-heart surgery in

Israeli hospitals for children from Africa and the Middle East.

“Lauren had been traveling to Idaho for the weekend with her

boyfriend, his father, and another woman,” the website said. “Her

boyfriend’s father, a business owner and an accomplished pilot, had been

at the controls, when The Citation II suddenly skidded off the runway

after landing and crashed into a hangar, which collapsed on the jet,

causing an instantaneous fireball that immediately killed all

passengers. Since flight manifests for private aircraft do not require

the names of the passengers, Lauren’s father Gary and her mother Carole

remained in an agonizing limbo state for hours, and then two whole days,

while the coroner’s office matched dental records with the bodies

removed from the jet.”

At Save A Child’s Heart, the website said Winkler oversaw the

fundraising, arranged more than 3,000 visits to the Wolfson Medical

Center and the SACH House in Holon, and coordinated the volunteers and

interns in the program.

“Lauren’s death reminds us, as the Talmud also tells us, that our

days are numbered and we don’t know how long we’ll be here. But while

we’re here, we’re meant to love and serve one another,” the website


Sources told The Mirror that Dupont was Mark Benjamin's girlfriend.

The bodies of a Golden Retriever and two cats were also found in the wreckage.

The eight-seat twin-engine Cessna Citation business 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


The roof of the hanger then 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 earlier this week 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, 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


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,

Sept. 27 at 7:15 pm PST, arriving at Friedman Memorial at 10:02 pm MDT.

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