Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Officials release names of plane-crash victims

Part-time Ketchum residents killed in California


Mark Benjamin Photo by Mary Beth Whitaker

    Officials Tuesday said two known dead from an aircraft crash Sunday night in Santa Monica, Calif., were confirmed to be a father—the CEO and senior project manager for one of Southern California’s largest construction companies—and his son.
    Mark Benjamin, 63, of Morley Construction, who had a home in Ketchum and served on the board of directors of the Idaho Conservation League, and his son Lucas Benjamin, 28, were aboard a private Cessna Citation 525A jet that flew out of Hailey Sunday and crashed into a hangar at Santa Monica Airport, the Associated Press reported.
    There were reports Tuesday that a total of four bodies and some animals were removed from the crash scene, but additional details were not available.
    The National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation. Thus far, it is speculated that the pilot, believed to be Mark Benjamin, saw no reason for distress in the moments before touching down, but some sort of mechanical malfunction, thought to be a popped tire, hurled the jet into the hangar, which exploded in fire, complicating retrieval of the bodies.

His (Mark Benjamin) love of Idaho cemented when he became a part-time Wood River Valley resident nearly 20 years ago.”
Rick Johnson
Idaho Conservation League

    The Associated Press reported that while investigation of the crash scene was still under way that it appeared that no one was injured on the ground.
    An article on the Idaho Conservation League website by the organization’s Executive Director Rick Johnson describes Mark Benjamin as a “father, CEO, friend, conservationist, hiker, dog lover, amateur photographer and remarkable man.”
    The article states that Benjamin was piloting the aircraft when it crashed and that he often traveled between California and Idaho for a weekend getaway.
    “His love of Idaho cemented when he became a part-time Wood River Valley resident nearly 20 years ago,” Johnson wrote. “Mark talked to me about when he first came to Idaho as a child by train and fell in love with this amazing place.”
    Johnson wrote that Benjamin has served on the board of directors since 2010 and that he was one of the organization’s largest donors but preferred that his donations be kept anonymous.
    Mark Benjamin was the subject of a 2009 Express Publishing Habitat magazine story about his large but eco-conscious home that included a telescope. He is the son of noted developer Morley Benjamin, who was behind many iconic Los Angeles projects. Mark is credited with numerous projects around California, including the renovation of the Getty Villa in Malibu.
    The Habitat article can be found at http//
    No details on services for the Benjamins have been released.
    The Los Angeles Times quoted an official from the National Transportation Safety Board that the accident investigation was postponed due to the federal government shutdown.

    This story was compiled by Express staff writers Jennifer Liebrum and Terry Smith.

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