UPDATE, Tuesday, 4:48 PM and 6:35 PM: James Horner’s lawyer, Jay Cooper, released a statement late this afternoon, prior to Horner’s rep Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency statement confirming their client’s death. Cooper’s statement reads: “Although we are all awaiting official confirmation that our dear friend and client James Horner was in fact the pilot, we are shocked and deeply saddened to learn that his single-engine aircraft was involved in a fatal crash yesterday morning in northern Ventura County,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with James’ family at this difficult time. We can offer no further comment for the time being, except to ask that the family’s privacy be respected in the days ahead.” (Our original news alert went out with an incorrect headline. We regret the error.)
PREVIOUSLY, 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM: It will take several days before the coroner will be able to identify the body of the pilot killed in the small plane crash near Santa Barbara, according to the Ventura County Sheriff Adjunct as the body is “in bad shape.” He said that the coroner is still on the scene this morning with investigators from the FAA and the NTSB and samples are being sent to the lab for processing. The body is presumed to be that of Oscar-winning composer James Horner, a much beloved man in the entertainment industry.
“Although we are all awaiting official confirmation that our dear friend and client James Horner was in fact the pilot, we are shocked and deeply saddened to learn that his single-engine aircraft was involved in a fatal crash yesterday morning in northern Ventura County,” said his reps The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency in a statement this morning. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with James’ family at this difficult time. We can offer no further comment for the time being, except to ask that the family’s privacy be respected in the days ahead.”
Horner was to next score the Mel Gibson-directed film Hacksaw Ridge, which tells the story of medic Desmond T. Doss, the first conscientious objector to be bestowed with the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. Gibson called Horner “a rare artistic genius. He did not merely augment the image he was presented with, he was able to transcend its matter and logic & travel straight to the heart and soul with his magical gift … a gift that truly reflected his own heart & soul. I will miss him.”
Very true statement. If you listen to any of his scores, such as the one for Aliens, it is layer upon layer of musical mastery.
The FAA said this morning that a single-engine S312 Tucano MK1 crashed under unknown circumstances near Cuyama around 9:30 a.m. and the pilot — who was the only person on board — was killed. The aircraft tale number was registered to James Horner and that was confirmed by Deadline through LLC records where the company was registered in Nevada.
Last night the lead agency was the Ventura County Fire Department but that has shifted this morning to the NTSB. Within a week or two after an accident, the NTSB will post a preliminary report about the accident to the website, but it usually takes months to come up with a probable cause. Will update with more information as it becomes available.
UPDATED, Monday 11:25 PM: Here’s what we know: The Hollywood community is mourning James Horner tonight, though his death has not been confirmed by his reps, family, law enforcement or aviation officials. There has been no official identification of the body found at the crash site of a small-plane crash near Santa Barbara on Monday. Horner’s attorney, Jay Cooper, told the Associated Press tonight, “It was his plane and if he wasn’t in it, he would’ve called.” Cooper is planning to release an official statement Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department told Deadline late Monday: “There is an active investigation at the crash site. The coroner has been on the scene today. We are waiting for the NTSB and FAA, who will be on site in the morning. We can’t confirm anything right now. We can’t confirm who it is. The coroner is going to have to confirm it in the morning.”
PREVIOUSLY, 7:44 PM: Media outlets are reporting tonight that a plane registered to Oscar-winning Titanic and Avatar composer James Horner crashed this morning near Santa Barbara and that its unidentified pilot was killed. The reports have not been confirmed by law enforcement or aviation official. An FAA spokesman contacted by Deadline would confirm only that a small plane has crashed in that area and that FAA investigators will be on site Tuesday morning.
Santa Barbara County Fire responded to a plane-down call at about 9:30 AM off Route 33 near Ventucopa, in the remote upper Cuyama Valley. The crash sparked a small brush fire.
Horner, a 10-time Oscar nominee and longtime aviation enthusiast, is among Hollywood’s go-to composers. He won a pair of Oscars in 1998 for Titanic: Best Score and Best Original Song for the No. 1 pop smash “My Heart Will Go On,” for which he penned the music. During his nearly four-decade career, he has composed the scores for more than 150 films including three Best Picture Oscar winners Titanic, A Beautiful Mind and Braveheart; Best Picture nominees including Avatar, Apollo 13 and Field Of Dreams; the upcoming Southpaw and The 33; 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and such classics as 48HRS., Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan and Glory.
Deadline has reached out to a number of sources and will update with any news.