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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM are expected to fully recover from burns they suffered in a fiery South Carolina jet crash that killed the other four people aboard, one of their doctors said Sunday.
Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, said the two suffered second- and third-degree burns but had no other injuries from the crash that one witness described as a fireball shooting across a highway.
“Anybody who can survive a plane crash is pretty lucky,” Mullins said at a news conference Sunday morning.
Barker was burned on his torso and lower body, and DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, was burned on an arm and a portion of his scalp, according to a statement from the musicians’ families released by the hospital. Mullins declined to discuss specific recovery times for the men, but said such injuries can take a year to fully heal.
Both men are still in critical but stable condition, he said.
The Learjet crashed late Friday night shortly after taking off from an airport in Columbia, where the men had just performed a concert for thousands of college students. The plane’s two-person crew and a pair of the musicians’ staff members — also their close friends — were killed.
As the plane was departing, air traffic controllers reported seeing sparks, officials said. The plane hurtled off the end of a runway and came to rest a quarter-mile away on an embankment across a five-lane highway, engulfed in flames.
One witness said he was driving when a fireball streaked across the highway about 600 feet ahead of him. William Owens said he approached to see the two survivors frantically trying to remove their burning clothes.
“I noticed two guys who were on fire and it looked like a dance: They didn’t know what to do,” said Owens, a 60-year-old delivery van driver.
Goldstein had stripped off his own shirt and was helping Barker strip naked, said Owens, who was able to identify the men Saturday night because of news reports that showed Barker’s extensive tattoos.
Owens said Goldstein told him four other people were on board the jet, but the flames were too intense to get close.
” ‘Oh my God’ was all they were saying,” Owens said of Barker and Goldstein. “They stood there and it’s like — didn’t know what to do. None of us did.”
Several fans visited the hospital over the weekend. One carried a sign that read: “Get Well Travis.”
“I was just shocked when I first heard it, and I knew that I had to do something,” said Ryan Meadows, a 19-year-old college student from Augusta.
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 families wish to thank fans from all over the world for their prayers and concern. Deepest sympathy is expressed to the loved ones of those who perished in the crash,” said the statement from the musicians’ families.
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, said National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman.
A longtime friend of the co-pilot said Bland flew anti-smuggling missions for 20 years for the U.S. Customs Service and flew missions for the Santa Ana Police Department in California and U.S. Border Patrol.
“He was such an experienced pilot, it had to be something beyond their control,” said Tim Ferrill, a Huntington Beach, Calif., pilot. “He was an absolutely meticulous pilot, very thorough and not a risk-taker at all.”
Barker and Goldstein had performed together under the name TRVSDJ-AM at a free concert in Columbia on Friday night. The show, which included performances by former Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell and singer Gavin DeGraw, drew about 10,000 people to a neighborhood near the University of South Carolina.
Barker, 32, was one of the more colorful members of the multiplatinum-selling punk band Blink-182, whose biggest album was 1999’s CD “Enema of the State” and sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.
After Blink-182 disbanded in 2005, Barker went on to form the rock band (+44). 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 home 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 and dated singer-actress Mandy Moore. While he became a gossip favorite for his romances, he draws respect from music aficionados for his DJ skills.
Barker and Goldstein performed as part of the house band at the MTV Video Music Award this month.
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