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Santa Monica jet crash investigation starts again post-government shutdown

Firefighters work to extinguish fire at the site of a plane crash in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. Authorities say a twin-jet Cessna Citation went off the right side of the runway and crashed into a hangar after landing about 6:20 p.m.  It was not immediately clear how many people were on the plane or whether anyone was inside the hangar, and there was no immediate word on any injuries or deaths. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP
The investigation of a fatal crash that happened at the Santa Monica airport last month was put on hold during the government shutdown. Now transportation safety officials are back to work, and hope they haven't lost any "perishable" evidence in the meantime.

The investigation of a fatal crash at the Santa Monica Airport last month was put on hold because of the federal government shutdown.

Van McKenny is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who's looking into the crash. He said most of the critical information in the case is "perishable" and needs to be gathered quickly.

"Witness statements of people who happen to be there, any debris or ground scars or skid marks on the runway that can fade over time ... things like that are the type of things we try to collect on scene that can get disrupted over time," said McKenny.

When McKenny arrived at the incident in September, he said he spent much of the time photographing the damage and collecting witness statements. But the approximately two-week government shutdown halted all work and delayed the preliminary report. 

“There’s a loss of some investigative information," he said. "I hope to have minimized that with my work on scene there the day before the shutdown.” 

NTSB  workers were back to work on Thursday and are picking up investigations where they left off. For McKenny, this means collecting more maintenance records and re-examining the wreckage.  

The private jet crashed into a hangar and burst into flames at the end of last month. The incident gave new momentum to a community campaign to shut down the Santa Monica Airport amid safety concerns. Some residents say the noise and plane exhaust is also a nuisance. 

The City of Santa Monica has tried to reduce air traffic at the airport for many years, mostly without success.

A preliminary report on the crash is expected sometime next week.