Coroner names Tesla employees killed in crash


Authorities on Thursday tentatively confirmed the identify of the three Tesla Motors employees who were killed in a plane crash in East Palo Alto early Wednesday morning.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the three occupants of the twin-engine Cessna 310 are believed to have been Douglas Bourn, 56, of Santa Clara; Brian Finn, 42, of East Palo Alto; and Andrew Ingram, 31, of Palo Alto.

Foucrault said the identities won't be confirmed until the coroner's office has made dental record and DNA comparisons.

The plane, registered to Bourn, a senior electrical engineer for Tesla, crashed onto Beech Street shortly before 8 a.m. after striking either a PG&E transmission tower or the attached power lines and breaking into pieces.

A wing landed in the rear of a home that serves as a day care center, and the body of the plane skidded down Beech Street, ricocheting off a retaining wall and lighting cars and vegetation on fire.

No one on the ground was injured.

The crash was picked up by East Palo Alto's ShotSpotter system, which is used by police to track gunfire. Police will be releasing audio from the ShotSpotter recording this afternoon.

Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said a fire investigator will be working with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration to document the crash site.

An NTSB recovery team will be on site, and crews will work to disentangle twisted metal, remove debris and shore up buildings, Schapelhouman said.

Special tools will be brought in, including the Jaws of Life and "anything we need to get those aircraft parts out of the neighborhood," Schapelhouman said.

PG&E is hoping to dismantle the badly damaged transmission tower today and fly the parts away by helicopter, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said. A new tower will be brought in by truck and erected, he said.

As of 10:30 a.m., however, the weather was preventing the helicopter from taking off.

The three transmission lines affected by the crash supply power to Palo Alto, and the city was without power much of the day Wednesday. Palo Alto operates its own utilities but the transmission lines are owned by PG&E.

Power came back on at about 5:30 p.m. after PG&E crews restored power to one of the disabled lines. The two others were re-energized overnight, Molica said.

Schapelhouman said he expects the investigation and neighborhood cleanup to conclude Thursday evening.

"Our goal is to be completely out of this community by 7 p.m.," he said.

Most residents were allowed to spend the night at their homes Wednesday, with the exception of those whose homes were damaged, he said.

He said there was a small flare-up this morning when a car that had been damaged by fire re-ignited at about 6 a.m. An officer providing security spotted smoke coming from a BMW parked outside 1180 Beech St., where the plane's fuselage was found, Schapelhouman said.

When firefighters arrived, the car's dashboard was on fire but the flames were quickly extinguished, he said.

He said the small fire is a reminder that although residents have been allowed back home, they need to be careful.

"We have an active site here and I think that's what everybody needs to understand," he said.

Schapelhouman said people who don't live in the neighborhood have been stopping by to check out the damage. "If you don't need to be down here, don't come down here," he said.

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