‘Titanic’ composer missing after plane crash

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(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Doha Film Institute)

LOS ANGELES — Academy Award-winning composer James Horner, known for his impressive body of work spanning multiple movie genres, is feared dead after a small plane belonging to him crashed in central California on Monday, killing the pilot.

It is not known whether the 61-year-old Horner, best known for scoring the movie “Titanic,” was the person flying the plane.

But the Hollywood Reporter reported his death, attributing the confirmation to Sylvia Patrycja, his assistant.

“A great tragedy has struck my family today, and I will not be around for a while. I would like some privacy and time to heal,” Patrycja posted on her Facebook page.

“We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road. Love Sylvia.”

Horner’s lawyer couldn’t confirm his death, but said he hadn’t heard from the composer since the crash.

“He is an experienced pilot. He owns several planes. We have not heard from him,” Cooper told CNN.

Condolences pour in

Horner won two Oscars for his work on the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” — best original dramatic score and best original song for the Celine Dion classic, “My Heart Will Go On.”

He was nominated for an Academy Award 10 times and has scored numerous blockbusters, including “Braveheart,” “Apollo 13,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Avatar.”

Reaction to his reported death was immediate, with celebrities who worked with him posting messages of condolences.

“Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones,” tweeted Ron Howard, who directed “Apollo 13.”

Leona Lewis, who worked with Horner on the theme for “Avatar,” said working with the composer “was one of the biggest moments of my life.”

“He was such a kind soul, I’m so saddened,” she tweeted.

Crash circumstances

The single-engine S312 Tucano crashed under unknown circumstances near Cuyama, about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, on Monday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The debris field from the crash was scattered across a roughly one-acre area in a dry riverbed, said Mike Eliason, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The aircraft caught fire upon impact, and the flames spread to the surrounding vegetation, he said.

Firefighters who arrived on the scene were able to quickly put the fire out, but the occupant of the plane had died on impact, Eliason said.

The pilot was the only occupant on board, the FAA said.

The name of the victim will have to come from local authorities, the FAA said. CNN has reached out to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for information, and left messages for Horner’s agent.

A person answering the phone at Horner’s house asked for privacy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

More than 75 films

Horner was born in 1953 in Los Angeles, but he grew he up in England, studying piano at London’s Royal College of Music. Horner moved back to the U.S. to attend college, earning a music degree from the University of Southern California, and then his master’s and Ph.D. from UCLA.

Horner composed songs for more than 75 films, making his feature-film debut in 1982 for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

In addition to the accolades he earned for “Titanic,” Horner earned Grammy Awards for “Somewhere Out There” from “An American Tail” in 1987 and “Glory” in 1990. Horner also composed the music for such 1980s classics “Field of Dreams,” and “Cocoon.”

Horner leaves behind a wife, Sarah, and two daughters.