Lexington County Deputy Coroner Brian Setree confirmed for MTV News on Saturday morning (September 20) that three men and a woman died in the crash. The victims were: Barker’s assistant, Chris “Little Chris” Baker, 29, of Studio City, California (who appeared on MTV’s reality show “Meet the Barkers”); Barker’s security guard, Charles Still, 25, of Los Angeles; the plane’s pilot, Sarah Lemmon, 31, of Anaheim, California; and her co-pilot, James Bland, 52, of Carlsbad, California.
Barker and AM had just performed at a free T-Mobile-sponsored show in the Five Points area, along with Perry Farrell and headliner Gavin DeGraw. Though early reports had suggested that DeGraw may have been on the plane at the time of the crash, DeGraw’s father, Wayne, told MTV News that he’d spoken to his son Saturday morning and that he was fine. Farrell’s manager, Peter Katsis, confirmed that Farrell was not on the plane.
Beth Frits, a spokesperson for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia, confirmed that AM (born Adam Goldstein) and Barker were transported to a hospital in Columbia following the crash. They were transferred — AM by helicopter and Barker by ambulance — to the Still Center soon after. She told CNN that both men had “extensive burns.”
According to TMZ.com, Barker sustained burns from the waist down, while AM suffered facial burns; UsMagazine.com reported that AM was in a doctor-induced coma and will undergo skin grafts. Both sites cited unnamed sources; MTV News was unable to confirm those reports at press time.
On Saturday afternoon, members of both men’s families were reportedly traveling to Georgia to be with them.
The crash took place just before midnight on Friday and involved a twin-engine private Learjet with six passengers onboard, according to Lynne Douglas, public information officer for the Columbia Metro Airport. While taking off, the plane, which never left the ground, overran the runway, struck an antenna array and several lights, and began sending up sparks. It skidded off the end of the runway, through a perimeter fence separating the airfield from a nearby roadway, and then crossed the roadway, coming to a stop on an embankment. The plane caught fire on impact. Douglas said two passengers — who were later confirmed to be AM and Barker — escaped the aircraft while it was on the ground, while the other two passengers and crew members died in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed these details during a press conference, which was held shortly after 11:30 a.m. Saturday. A 10-member team from the NTSB, along with investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is on the scene, trying to determine what caused the crash. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen described the post-crash fire as “significant.”
An eyewitness told NBC news affiliate WIS that he saw a fireball crossing the road near the airport and then realized it was a plane. He saw jet fuel shoot out across the roadway and then saw two men, who were both on fire, patting each other down to extinguish the flames.
Barker, 32, and DJ AM, 35, were the house band for the 2008 VMAs.
[This story was originally published at 10:14 a.m. ET.]
If you’d like more information on the memorial funds set up to benefit Chris Baker’s and Charles Still’s families, visit the Famous Stars and Straps Web site.