Kobe Bryant & 13-Year-Old Daughter Gianna Among Those Killed In Calabasas Helicopter Crash
By Stephanie Ogbogu
According to reports from TMZ, 41-year-old basketball superstar Kobe Bryant‘s private helicopter was involved in a crash in Calabasas, California. Initially, it was reported that five occupants were on board. However, in a press conference Sunday afternoon, LA County Sheriff confirmed there were actually nine people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria.
At about 10 AM Sunday morning, the helicopter reportedly went down on a hillside near the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Rd. A fire broke out. Emergency responders had to hike to the crash site to extinguish the fire and it was clear there were no survivors.
Witnesses recall hearing the engine sputtering before the chopper went down.
The helicopter was headed to nearby Thousand Oaks for a Mamba Academy basketball practice before the accident. Gianna was a star player for the team.
It was not uncommon for Bryant to travel by helicopter. In the month of January alone, his helicopter had made 42 trips and during his time with the Lakers, Kobe often used his Sikorsky S-76 chopper to travel from Newport Beach to the Staples Center for games.
The confirmed victims of the crash are Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Maria Bryant, girls coach Christina Mauser, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, Altobelli’s wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa (who also played for Mamba Academy alongside Gianna Bryant), fellow Mamba teammate Payton Chester, her mother Sarah Chester, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
As reports continue to come in, more details are becoming available. It seems that unfavorable weather conditions may have played a major part in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others. Heavy fog caused Kobe’s pilot to circle the LA Zoo area about six times at a very low altitude for about 15 minutes, waiting for the fog to clear. Eventually, they head north along the 118 freeway before eventually heading west on the 101 freeway towards Woodland Hills.
At around 9:40 am, they encountered more fog and turned south towards a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly climbed from 1200 feet up to 2000 feet and according to reports, at around 9:45 am, flew into a mountain at 1700 about feet and 161 knots (about 185 miles per hour).