Bryant crash created a 'devastating accident scene' say officials

Lawrence Ostlere, Tom Kershaw, Chris Riotta, Jack Rathborn
Reuters

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter did not have a black box, and nor was it required to have one, crash officials have revealed, as they start to retrieve bodies from the wreckage.

As more than 20 members of the national transportation board (NTSB scoured the California hillside where the chopper came down on Sunday morning in bad weather, officials asked for the public to help to provide photographs of the conditions.

NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Homendy said the pilot of the chopper told air traffic controllers in his last radio message that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

The phe pilot had asked for and received special clearance to fly in heavy fog just minutes before the crash and was flying at 1400 feet (427 meters) when he went south and then west, she said.

The pilot then asked for air traffic controllers to provide “flight following” aide but was told the craft was too low, she said.

Ms Homendy said the debris field covered “about 500 to 600 feet”.

Asked if anyone could have survived, she said: “It was a pretty devastating accident scene.”

Reports have emerged of extremely foggy conditions that grounded planes and plagued the California region where Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash.

The former Los Angeles Lakers star was on the private helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter, a beloved baseball coach and multiple families when it crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Tributes have since poured in across the globe as fans remembered the iconic 41-year-old, whose decades-long career propelled him to international stardom and ultimately transcended basketball.

Bryant spent the entirety of his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships, before retiring in 2016. He also won two Olympic gold medals with the US national team in 2008 and 2012. Follow live updates below:

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Tributes

Tributes have poured in for Kobe Bryant after the former basketball star has died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41.

The likes of US president Donald Trump, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Whoopi Goldberg, Lennox Lewis, Andy Murray and Justin Bieber were among those to pay their respects to the five-time NBA champion on social media.

Bryant, regarded as one of the best players of all time, represented the Los Angeles Lakers for all of his 20-year career and also won two Olympic gold medals before retiring in 2016.

President Trump wrote on Twitter: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”

Joel Embiid, a three-time NBA All-Star playing for Bryant’s hometown team the Philadelphia 76ers, said he took up basketball after watching “legend” Bryant in action and wanted to emulate him.

The Cameroon-born centre wrote: “Man I don’t even know where to start. I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND”

Former record-breaking Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt tweeted: “Still can’t believe” along with a photo of him with Bryant.

Tom Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner, wrote: “We miss you already Kobe”

Shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who won three NBA titles with the Miami Heat and was a team-mate of Bryant’s with the United States, wrote: “Nooooooooooo God please No!”

Team USA wrote: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of two-time Olympic champion Kobe Bryant. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

TV presenter Whoopi Goldberg wrote: “RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me & my family. My deepest condolences to his family.”

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis put a picture of Bryant on his Twitter account simply accompanied by the word “Heartbroken”.

Fellow boxer Tony Bellew, meanwhile, wrote: “Truly heartbreaking news about the great Kobe Bryant! An iconic figure who will go down with the greatest of his generation.”

Three-time grand slam tennis champion Andy Murray also paid tribute to Bryant, saying on an Instagram story “This has hit me hard”, while adding “Thinking of all his family, friends and colleagues.”

Scores of footballers tweeted their shock and sadness, including United States striker Alex Morgan, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku.

Morgan, a two-time World Cup winner and gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, wrote: “My heart is heavy with the news of Kobe Bryant. Prayers go out to his family right now through this unthinkable time.”

Series A giants AC Milan tweeted: “We have no words to express how shocked we are to hear of the tragic passing of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time and Rossonero fan, Kobe Bryant. All our thoughts are with the families of those affected by this tragic accident. You will forever be missed, Kobe.”

Biles, winner of 23 Olympic and World Championship gold medals, wrote “rest in peace Kobe” alongside a picture of Bryant with the USA women’s gymnastics team.

Singer Bieber also put an old picture of him alongside Bryant on Instagram, saying: “It can’t be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day.! Love you man!”

PA