By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Source: Multiple Sources; Including Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner, Los Angeles County Fire Department, National Basketball Association, TMZ and Flightradar24 (Information):
Pictures: Multiple Sources; Including Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, KCBS 2, KNBC 4, NBC News, KABC 7, KTTV Fox 11 (Courtesy):
Calabasas, California: Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter is among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26th, 2020.
Officials from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the crash was reported at 9:47 a.m. PT in rough terrain in the area of Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street.
According to Fire Chief Daryl Osby with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, when firefighters arrived, they found a fire had started, consuming about a quarter-acre of brush. The fire was particularly difficult to fight because of the presence of magnesium, which is difficult to extinguish and reacts with oxygen and water.
Fire Chief Daryl Osby said that paramedics also helicoptered to the scene and were hoisted down to try to aid any possible survivors, but all died at the scene.
Reports that TMZ initially reported that basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash at 11:24 a.m. PT, before being confirmed by local authorities and officials in Los Angeles as well as officials from the NBA and the City of Calabasas, later that day which then was re-reported by other news outlets.
Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were working on notifying family members of victims and they are upset TMZ may have beat them to the punch by making the news public.
During a press conference on Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, “There is wide speculation who the identities are. It is entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identifications through their deliberate process and made notifications to next of kin.”
Bryant’s daughter, 13 year old Gianna, and a teammate on her basketball team also were on board Bryant’s helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, as well as the teammate’s parent and pilot also were killed as they were on their way to a travel basketball game.
Sunday afternoon, three more victims involved in the helicopter crashed have been identified as John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Southern California, his wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa.
The 41 year old Bryant spent his entire professional basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five championships.
Bryant was drafted to the National Basketball Association directly out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia. Bryant was the 13th choice in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft.
Bryant, a.k.a. Black Mamba, was the fourth-highest scorer in National Basketball Association history, with 33,643 points, recently removed from third by LeBron James.
Bryant retired in 2016, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic.
Bryant lived in Orange County, California for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s notorious traffic.
Bryant often traveled to practices and games by helicopter, and kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his business ventures.
The Lakers team plane arrived back in Los Angeles from Philadelphia hours later. Players could be seen embracing, some appearing to wipe tears from their eyes.
According to authorities, the helicopter that crashed was a Sikorksy S-76B, and departed at about 9:00 a.m. PT from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.
ZachNews has obtain the air traffic audio between air traffic control and the pilot of the Sikorksy S-76B just before Bryant’s helicopter crashed (Audio Above).
According to data from Flightradar24, Bryant’s helicopter left Orange County, California shortly after 9:00 a.m. PT and circled for a time just east of Interstate 5 near Glendale, California. Air traffic controllers noted poor visibility around Burbank, California, just to the north, and Van Nuys, California, to the northwest.
After holding up the helicopter for other aircraft, they cleared Bryant’s helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, to proceed north along Interstate 5 through Burbank, California before turning west to follow U.S. Route 101. Shortly after 9:40 a.m. PT, Bryant’s helicopter turned again, toward the southeast, and climbed to more than 2000 feet (609 meters).
Bryant’s helicopter then descended and crashed into the hillside in Calabasas, California at about 1400 feet (426 meters). When it struck the ground, Bryant’s helicopter was flying at about 160 knots (184 mph) and descending at a rate of more than 4000 feet per minute.
Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks was holding a basketball tournament on Sunday.
Reports that the helicopter was flying in foggy conditions that were considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.
The Los Angeles Police Department grounded their helicopter fleet due to the foggy conditions Sunday morning and didn’t fly until Sunday afternoon.
Los Angeles Police Department’s flight minimums require 2 miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling, and when conditions allow, the Los Angeles Police Department typically flies two helicopters in the San Fernando Valley, California area and in the Los Angeles Basin area.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of 18 investigators and staff members to investigate the cause of the crash, and they’ll be looking at factors such as operations, human performance, air worthiness, structures and power plants.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board with documenting evidence as part of a longstanding partnership between the two agencies, but it remains an National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
According to Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas, because of the rough terrain in the area, recovery of the bodies could take several days.
Hours after the helicopter crash, dozens of people began gathered Sunday afternoon at an intersection near the site of the helicopter crash site in Calabasas, California and at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, California where Bryant played for years.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is asked the public to stay away from the area, adding that the situation is a “logistical nightmare” because of the rough terrain and fans and well-wishers are crowding the neighborhood.
The Federal Aviation Administration has secured a 5-mile flight restriction from the area of the helicopter crash.
Messages of thoughts, prayers and condolences for the passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
- National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver: “But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.“
- Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter: “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant. I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. I’M SICK RIGHT NOW.“
- Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: “The crash was a tragedy for multiple families. My heart goes out to Vanessa and the families that lost loved ones. Kobe was a chosen one – special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil.“
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti via Twitter: “L.A. is grieving with the Bryant family over the loss of Gianna, who perished with her father and friends in today’s tragedy. Kobe loved his daughters fiercely, and this love inspired him to be an extraordinary advocate for women and girls in sports. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief. Kobe will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.“
- Governor of California Gavin Newsom via Twitter: “Today, the world lost a legend. Kobe Bryant’s 20 year career with the @Lakers raised the bar for every player. He willed his team to triumphs. Competed with unparalleled ferocity. Defied the odds. Simply put — he was an icon. Our hearts go out to his family and fans.“
- United States of America President Donald J. Trump via Twitter: “Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!“
- Former United States of America President Barack Obama: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.” “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
ZachNews and the community sends our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the family and friends of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and all of the victims who were killed in the helicopter crash.