The death of Kobe Bryant was a huge loss for the sports world. On January 26, a private helicopter carrying the legendary basketball player crashed in the city of Calabasas, located near Los Angeles. At the moment, the police are conducting an investigation and many circumstances of the incident remain unknown. It is only clear that along with the athlete on board was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the total number of deaths was nine people.
The incident occurred at around 09:40 a.m. local time. At 09:06, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, and after 31 minutes the first crash reports began to appear. At the moment, the causes of the crash are unknown, the investigation team and firefighters are working at the scene. According to reports, the helicopter suddenly began to lose altitude and crashed, after which there was an explosion. Firefighters arrived at the scene of the tragedy as soon as possible, but could not save anyone.
"Our fire fighters arrived at the scene with medical equipment and fire hoses to extinguish a complex fire because the forest was burning ... and a helicopter," said Orange County Chief Fire Officer Daryl Osby. “There was also magnesium burning, which firefighters eliminated with great difficulty, since magnesium reacts with oxygen and water.”
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are involved in the investigation of the incident, and there are no records in the database of previous incidents with this brand of helicopters. At the same time, Sikorsky said they were cooperating with the investigation and were ready to provide any information.
One of the possible causes of the crash is called heavy fog. According to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Air Support Division, the weather did not meet “minimum flight standards,” which forced them to abandon the use of helicopters until noon.
“The weather did not meet the minimum standards for flights. The fog was such that our helicopters did not fly, ”the Los Angeles Times quoted Josh Rubinstein, representative of the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to the former pilot Kurt Ditz, who had previously flown with Bryant on this helicopter, the aircraft was reliable and comfortable. In this regard, it is with high probability that the cause of the accident was precisely fog and low visibility, and not a vehicle breakdown.
“(Weather conditions. - RT ) were bad. As for the likelihood of failure of both engines on this helicopter - this does not happen, ”the Los Angeles Times quoted Ditz as saying.
Analyzing the available information about the flight and the range of the debris, Ditz concluded that at the time of the crash, the aircraft was moving at high speed - about 160 miles per hour (257 km / h). In addition, he added that about 800 pounds (362 kg) of fuel remained in the helicopter’s tanks - enough to set up a “big fire”.
The circumstances of the disaster were described by an eyewitness Jerry Kocharian. According to him, he was at the church in the Canyon and personally saw the helicopter crash with Bryant on board.
“He flew very low. I saw a helicopter crash and crash. But it was hard to see, because it was very foggy. Then there was a big ball of fire, no one could survive it, ”said an eyewitness.
To gallery page
As for the rest of the people on board the helicopter, in the first hours after the tragedy, many versions appeared about who exactly accompanied Bryant and his daughter Gianna to the game of children's basketball teams. Initially, the media reported that the whole family of the basketball player was on the aircraft, but subsequently these fears were not confirmed. There was also evidence that Rick Fox's former Kobe Los Angeles Lakers partner was also dead, but they were also denied.
However, it later became known that the victims of the crash were the college baseball team coach Orange Coast John Altobelli, as well as his wife Keri and daughter Alissa, who played in the same team with Gianna Bryant. Subsequently, the information about their death was confirmed by the family of a specialist who four times in his 27-year career became the champion of California.
Currently, not one of the nine dead has officially been confirmed, among which were eight passengers and one pilot. It is noted that this will happen only at the moment when all the victims of the crash are identified, which may take several days.