Gathering outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles to pay homage to Kobe Bryant, January 26, 2020. - Keith Birmingham / AP / SIPA
The sports world and the whole world are in shock: Kobe Bryant, legend of the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the greatest champions in the history of basketball, died Sunday at 41 years in a helicopter accident. Here is what we know about the drama.
What do we know about the accident?
The helicopter carrying the five-time NBA champion and seven others, in addition to the pilot, crashed in foggy weather northwest of Los Angeles. Local officials said firefighters received a call shortly before 9:37 a.m. (6:37 p.m. French time) about the accident, which caused a brush fire on a hill. If the cause of the accident is not known at the moment, the Los Angeles Times quotes several experts for whom "the weather conditions will probably be" at the center of the investigation.
According to a police source also quoted by the newspaper, the lack of visibility was such that the Los Angeles police had left their own helicopters on the ground until the afternoon, when the sky cleared. "The weather did not meet our minimum flight standards," police spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the daily.
Who are the victims ?
A total of nine people died in the accident. "There were no survivors ... There were nine people on board, the pilot and eight people," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Orange Coast College, a university in Orange County, said its baseball coach, John Altobelli, 56, was on the helicopter. CNN said his wife, Keri, and one of their two daughters, Alyssa, were also on board the aircraft. According to local media reports, the other victims include another teenage girl and a relative of her.
The names of the victims will not be released by the authorities until the bodies have been formally identified and the families have been notified, the sheriff said. "It would be extremely disrespectful for them to learn from [the celebrity news site] TMZ that their loved one has perished," he said.
Who is responsible for the investigation?
The NTSB, the US agency responsible for transportation safety, announced that it had dispatched a team of 18 people to California to participate in the investigation of the accident. "Our team will review the history of the pilot and the crew on board," said Jennifer Homendy of NTSB. "We will review the maintenance records for the helicopter. We will review the records of the owner and operator of the helicopter and a number of other things, ”she said. According to her, the aircraft was a Sikorsky S-76B whose black box will have to be recovered by the investigators.
What are the reactions?
Among the many reactions and tributes, we can cite those of two American presidents:
"This is terrible news! "Tweeted US President Donald Trump on Sunday.
Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
A few minutes later, his predecessor in the White House Barack Obama, a great basketball fan, greeted on the same channel a "legend" of the parquet floors before sending his "prayers" to the bereaved family.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.- Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
"The NBA family is devastated," reacted the North American Basketball League through the pen of its boss Adam Silver, in tune with the biggest stars of sport-king in the United States. "I have no words to express my pain," tweeted Shaquille O'Neal, who was his teammate in Los Angeles in the early 2000s, before leaving for Miami, quarreled with him. "I AM SICK," insisted the ex-Laker.
There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1- SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
"It was the greatest Lakers of all time," said NBA legend Magic Johnson, who preceded him in the yellow jersey of the Los Angeles team.
My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It's hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players. pic.twitter.com/NXsrXmCkkG- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
The Frenchman Tony Parker has for his part "the broken heart".
I'm heartbroken by this news, you were a true legend, and friend. Rest In Peace @kobebryant, my thoughts and prayers to his wife and kids. #legend #mamba #goat pic.twitter.com/1VKYdbrVEk- Tony Parker (@tonyparker) January 26, 2020
On social networks, the tsunami of emotions has only just begun, erasing the criticism of his individualism and arrogance that have marked his career.
- Kobe Bryant