The helicopter was travelling to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks where Gianna, who was 13 years old and a rising star in her own right, was set to take part in a practice session. One of her team-mates was also reportedly on board the aircraft when it crashed into a hill shrouded in fog 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.
Bryant's wife Vanessa and their other three daughters – Natalia, Bianca and six-month-old Capri – were not involved. Though Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, along with his wife and daughter, are among the other victims.
A call for a downed helicopter went out at 10.01am, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. The Los Angeles County Fire department attended the scene but were unable to identify the passengers on board, with brushfires ignited by the crash making it difficult to get close to the site.
The City of Calabasas released a statement confirming five-time NBA champion Bryant, who was known to travel by personal helicopter, was among those killed in the crash.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” the statement read.
“The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.”
Speaking to reporters near the scene, Tony Imbrenda of the Los Angeles County fire department said: “We received a call just before 10am this morning of an aircraft down in the Malibu area, right off of Las Vergenes, essentially Calabasas.
“Some folks were out here mountain biking this morning, they saw an aircraft in distress, they went down into the hillside. This was a helicopter, it’s been confirmed it was an S-76 Sikorsky helicopter and unfortunately there were no survivors.”