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Judge OKs settlement in deadly Lear jet crash

The Associated Press, Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 9:22am (PDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge approved a multimillion-dollar legal settlement Tuesday involving the wife and young son of former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker's assistant, who was killed in a 2008 plane crash in South Carolina.

The settlement with Learjet Inc., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and other companies involved in the ownership, operation and making of the jet will pay for college for Chris Baker's 3-year-old son and establish an annuity giving him more than $17 million over his lifetime.

It also will pay Baker's widow more than $7.6 million.

Otilia Baker and her son attended the brief hearing before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel.

Strobel said the settlement was in the best interest of the youngster, who rested his chin on a chair while his mother and their attorney, Brian Panish, spoke with the judge.

"It's a very sad case, but we're glad they were able to avoid a trial and receive full compensation," Panish said after the hearing.

Baker was killed in a plane crash in Columbia, S.C., in September 2008. The crash killed four people and left Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM seriously injured. DJ AM later died of a drug overdose.

Baker and the estate of DJ AM have settled their cases involving the crash for undisclosed terms. The details of the settlement with Baker's family required a judge's approval because it involved a child.

Federal investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash but said the plane's reverse thrusters — devices on the back of jet engines that divert their thrust forward to help slow the plane or force it backward — were not in the right position.

The pilots were trying to abort takeoff at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport when the accident happened.

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