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Ventura County Authorities Identify Pilot Killed in Plane Crash

The Ventura County Fire Department responded to a fatal single-engine aircraft crash in the foothills near Taylor Ranch, near the city of Ventura, Thursday. Click to view larger
The Ventura County Fire Department responded to a fatal single-engine aircraft crash in the foothills near Taylor Ranch, near the city of Ventura, Thursday.  (Ventura County Fire Department photo)

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office identified the pilot killed last week in a plane crash north of Ventura as Michael Brannigan, 52, of Lake Sherwood.

Brannigan died from blunt-force injuries in the crash, the coroner's office said Friday afternoon.

Records show Brannigan owned the single-engine Cessna 180 that went down around noon Thursday in the hills east of Solimar Beach

Brannigan's plane was built in 1954, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. His current pilot's license was issued in March 2010, FAA records show.

He had a certificate to fly as a private pilot and was required to wear glasses while piloting an aircraft, according to the FAA.

As of Friday, it was still not known where the plane's flight originated, where it was headed or what direction it was traveling in. 

Brannigan worked as a photographer, according to his website, David Michael Photography.

"I never thought that photography would become my ultimate passion and career of choice," Brannigan said on the website, noting that he discovered photography when he was 14. He became a professional at the age of 17, he wrote.

"It always has been and forever will be my honor to tell your story, become part of your family, and capture the priceless, beautiful moments of your life events through photography," he stated on the site.

Sheree Pouls, one of his friends, said in a Facebook message that "we are all shocked and devastated at this major loss."

The wrecked fuselage from Brannigan's plane was found a few miles north of Taylor Ranch Road on privately owned property. But debris that investigators suspect was from a plane was also found on a nearby beach.

Steve Swindle, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said Thursday that it was "highly unusual" for an aircraft to leave debris in numerous places so far from each other.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the debris on the beach came from the same incident that brought down Brannigan's plane. Initial witness accounts indicated there might have been a second aircraft that crashed. 

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board

[Click here for more from the Ventura County Star.]

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