A medical examiner's office in Southern California has formally confirmed that James Horner was the pilot killed in a plane crash earlier this week, and law enforcement has also confirmed that the death was an accident. Ventura County medical examiner Zeb Dunn reported in a statement that the composer was killed by blunt force trauma from the crash.
Horner's confirmed identity was less than surprising, as the composer's lawyer had already confirmed that the composer had been killed, and employees at the airfield where Horner filled his S-312 Tucano MK1 aircraft confirmed that Horner had flown off in the plane. It will bring some closure to his friends and family, hopefully, to know that the accomplished musician did not bring down his plane intentionally.
Horner was reportedly a passionate aviator who owned several planes. Horner was flying over Los Padres National Forest, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, when the plane came down. He was 61 years-old.
Horner was nominated for ten Academy Awards for a combination of Best Original Score and Best Original Song awards. He won twice during 1997 for his work on Titanic...once for Best Original Dramatic Score and "My Heart Will Go On" (performed by Celine Dion) won for Best Original Song. His most recent nomination came from his work with Avatar, another James Cameron film.
Cameron, a longtime collaborator with Horner, paid tribute to the composer earlier this week.
"James's music affected the heart because his heart was so big, it infused every cue with deep emotional resonance, whether soaring in majesty through the floating mountains, or crying for the loss of nature's innocence under bulldozer treads," he said. "The beauty and power of Avatar lay not just in the superb performances and the visual splendour, but in the music that made us cry and exult along with our characters. Irayo, James. Fly brother.''