Los Angeles

‘Humble Genius': Long-Time Disney Imagineer Killed in Plane Crash

Scott Watson, 55, was an executive with Walt Disney Research and Development for the company's Imagineering division

A nearly 30-year Walt Disney Company employee regarded as a "humble genuis" has been identified as the pilot who died after his airplane crashed near the 5 Freeway north of Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.

Scott Watson, 55, was killed in the single-engine aircraft crash in a field next to the San Fernando Valley freeway. The Beechcraft BE33 aircraft crashed under "unknown circumstances" about five miles north of Van Nuys Airport around 1:45 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor said.

Watson was an executive with Walt Disney Research and Development for the company's famed Imagineering division. October would have marked his 30th year with the company.

"We are in deep grief," said mother Louise Watson. "He touched everybody's lives so greatly. He was so good to people, and loving and generous. Everyone will hold him in their hearts. 

"It was an honor to be his mom."

In a statement, Walt Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis called Watson a "humble genius."

"The Walt Disney Company is stunned and saddened by the loss of our long-time friend and colleague, Scott Watson," Weis said. "Those of us who worked with Scott during his nearly 30-year career at Disney knew him as a humble genius who made making magic look easy. Our hearts are with his family during this difficult time."

"He was a wonderful, loving father, grandfather and a brilliant man," Sheree La Puma-Watson, ex-wife, said about her late ex-husband.

La Puma-Watson added, "We were married for 16 years and have three adult children. I don't have anything bad to say about him. He was such a humble, good-hearted soul."

Rescuers managed to pull the pilot from the plane, but he died at the scene, the LAFD said.

The airplane was registered to Watson, of Marina Del Rey, and was manufactured in 1980, according to FAA records. The LA City Coroner confirmed to NBC4 Sunday night that Watson was the person killed in the crash.

The crash did not spark a fire, damage structures or cause any other injuries, the LAFD said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is overseeing the investigation.

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