A partially fractured engine rod may have caused the Santa Monica Bay plane crash that killed former TV game show host Peter Tomarken and his wife last week, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB).

Tomarken, 63, former host of Press Your Luck, and his wife, Kathleen, 41, had departed Santa Monica Airport bound for the San Diego area Monday morning March 13th, for a volunteer medical transportation flight.

Shortly after takeoff, the plane reportedly experienced engine trouble and began to turn back.

Tomarken, the pilot, requested clearance for an emergency landing, but the plane crashed into the water about 200 yards off the Santa Monica shore.

The bodies of Peter and Kathleen Tomarken were recovered from the airplane and they were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County coroner spokeswoman said the Tomarkens suffered blunt trauma when the plane hit the water and they died as a result of drowning.

The wreckage of the single-engine 1973 Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza was examined Wednesday, March 15th, by an NTSB investigator, three Federal Aviation Administration inspectors and representatives from Raytheon Aircraft Company and Teledyne Continental Motors.

According to the preliminary NTSB report, the six-cylinder engine case had a hole that was about eight inches across and six inches wide.

The number-two cylinder connecting rod, which was visible through the hole, was located loose within the engine and a portion of the rod was fractured at the end, according to the report.