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3 Tesla Motors employees killed in plane crash tentatively identified

February 18, 2010 |  2:13 pm

The three employees of Tesla Motors Inc. killed in an East Palo Alto plane crash were tentatively identified Thursday as Doug Bourn, Brian Finn and Andrew Ingram.

Authorities said at a noon news conference that they planned to use DNA, dental records or fingerprints to confirm the identities of the three employees of the San Carlos, Calif.-based maker of electric vehicles.

Bourn was a senior electrical engineer and the pilot of the plane. Finn was a senior manager and Ingram an electrical engineer. They were headed to Hawthorne, where Tesla has business operations.

Authorities said no distress signal was sent from the twin-engine Cessna 310, which took off shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday from a Palo Alto airport in thick fog. With visibility at an eighth of a mile and a cloud ceiling of 100 feet, the pilot received authorization to fly using instruments.

“The last communication was regarding the takeoff clearance, “ said Josh Cawthra, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

He said a probe would look into whether the weather played a role in the accident and the possibility of a bird strike. The city of East Palo Alto has a sensor system designed to detect gunshots, and the system recorded a “very clear and quite powerful” audio of the crash, said Mayor Ronald Davis.

The recording has been sent to a laboratory in Washington for analysis. A preliminary report on the cause of the crash is expected in about five days. The crash damaged four structures, destroying one home, and charred five vehicles. Nobody on the ground was injured.

-- Maura Dolan