Kobe Bryant died on Sunday afternoon after his personal helicopter crashed in Orange County, California. There were nine people on board the doomed helicopter, including Kobe’s daughter 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Bryant, none of which survived.
Bryant was reportedly on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter, and another member of his Gianna’s team and their parent.
According to KTLA, longtime Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, was aboard Kobe Bryant’s helicopter with his daughter Alyssa Altobelli and wife Keri Altobelli, as well as the coach’s brother Tony Altobelli.
In a press conference, the sheriff in charge of the local investigation updated the casualties from five victims to nine people. There were eight passengers and the pilot.
The helicopter crashed shortly before 10 a.m. Pacific Time near the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road, which is south of the 101 Freeway, in Calabasas. Nobody on the ground was injured or died.
Residents in Calabasas who heard the helicopter crash described it as “a falling noise,” and you could tell “something was wrong.”
“It [didn’t] sound right, and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering,” said witness Jerry Kocharian. “But it was hard to make out as it was so foggy.”
“There was a big fireball,” Kocharian said. “No one could survive that.”
ESPN writer Ramona Shelburne shared video near the crash site where “hundreds of people have shown up.” At 4 p.m. EST, the wreckage was still smoldering.
The copter departed John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. on Sunday, passed near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight. Initially, there was a fire in the brush of the hill, but that was extinguished by emergency crews. The helicopter flew in circles before crashing, which points more towards a mechanical malfunction than an accident caused by fog.
Photos and video from the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site are slowly emerging.
Audio from the emergency dispatch during the helicopter crash has been released.
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You can listen to the entire audio of the Los Angeles County scanner radio following the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend and eight others were traveling in a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, which was built in 1991. The aircraft is registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corporation.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement on the helicopter crash in Calabasas. The cause of the crash has yet to be determined, but there were foggy conditions in the Calabasas hills on Sunday morning.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that they are investigating the helicopter accident.
The NTSB wrote on Twitter: “NTSB launching Go Team to investigate the Jan. 26, 2020 crash of a Sikorsky
S-76B helicopter in Calabasas, CA. The team is expected to arrive in California this evening.”
President Donald Trump reacted to the death of Kobe Bryant and tweeted: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”