The helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others is currently being investigated.
According to early reports, the fog surrounding the hills of Calabasas, Calif., and the visibility on the morning of Jan. 26 could have played a role in the crash. The helicopter had climbed sharply to a height of 2,400 feet before falling into the hills, per an ESPN report citing a person with knowledge of the investigation.
As the world mourns the loss of an iconic sports figure, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FBI are currently examining the cause of the crash.
Here's what we know about the tragic accident, based on statements from law enforcement and media reports.
Kobe Bryant news
On Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Currently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) along with the FAA, FBI and local authorities are investigating the crash.
Why was Kobe Bryant on the helicopter?
Bryant and the rest of the helicopter's passengers were on their way to a basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Bryant was scheduled to coach, and Gianna played on one of the teams. The tournament is called the Mamba Cup and featured boys' and girls' travel teams of players from grades 4-8.
Bryant frequently traveled by helicopter to avoid Los Angeles traffic, even during his playing days as a Laker.
Who else was on board?
Along with Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, there were seven other fatalities:
- John Altobelli, head baseball coach of the Ocean Coast College Pirates. Altobelli, 56, died alongside his wife Keri and 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. Altobelli is a famous figure among the junior college baseball world, and has coached major leaguers such as the Red Sox's Mookie Betts, the Mets' Jeff McNeil and the Yankees' Aaron Judge.
- Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach, was also aboard the helicopter, according to Costa Mesa, Calif. mayor Katrina Foley.
- Sarah and Payton Chester, a mother and daughter who lived in Orange County.
- Ara Zobayan, the helicopter pilot, who had 20 years of experience.
How did the helicopter crash?
While the cause is still being determined, early indications say weather may have played a role in the crash. Per ESPN, the helicopter was climbing to 2,400 feet to rise above fog and a thick layer of clouds en route to its destination before crashing into the hills of Calabasas. The pilot had made a turn to the southeast, and soon after the helicopter fell to the hills.
The Los Angeles Police Department made the decision to ground its helicopters due to the thick layer of fog and unsafe flight conditions earlier that morning.
"The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying," LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein said. The fog "was enough that we were not flying."
The FAA, the NTSB and the FBI are currently investigating the cause of the crash. While preliminary reports surrounding the crash could be available within 10 days, an official ruling could take up to a year or longer.
The helicopter in the crash was a Sikorsky S-76B, manufactured in 1991 and owned by a helicopter charter business.
UPDATE, Feb. 7: Wreckage from the helicopter showed no signs of engine failure, according to the NTSB.
Where did the accident happen?
The accident occurred in the hills of Calabasas, Calif., which is roughly 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The helicopter took off from John Wayne airport at 9:06 a.m., which is in Santa Ana, Calif, to the southeast.