The pilot killed when a plane crashed into an empty Orcutt schoolyard on Wednesday has been identified as a Burbank man.
Neighbors reported the crash at 10:45 a.m. on the playground at Ralph Dunlap Elementary School, 1220 Oak Knoll Road, as a large column of black smoke rose from the scene.
The pilot has been identified as Tigran Garabedyan, 38, of Burbank, according to Raquel Zick, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Bureau.
He was the only person killed in the crash, she added.
Authorities confirmed the man’s identity using an ANDE Rapid DNA Instrument that is on loan to the Coroner’s Bureau, according to Zick.
The plane was a Cirrus SR20 single-engine aircraft registered in Newport Beach that had departed Van Nuys Airport at 9:45 a.m. en route to the Santa Maria Public Airport, according to the FlightRadar24 website.
The aircraft came to rest upside down on the school’s basketball courts. It was on approach to the airport at the time of the crash, according to emergency radio traffic.
Santa Barbara County firefighters quickly doused the blaze, which scorched a metal storage container but spared nearly empty school buildings. Students have been absent from the campus because of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
A handful of school employees were on campus at the time of the crash, but they were not injured.
Witnesses reported seeing a parachute deploy as the aircraft made an uncontrolled descent, and photos of the wreckage show a parachute canopy stretching from the burned airplane.
The single-engine plane apparently was equipped with a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, or CAPS, a safety feature designed to protect occupants in the event of an emergency by lowering the aircraft to the ground after deployment, according to the company’s website.