New details have emerged in the tragic helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter Gianna and 7 others.
Severe fog and poor flying conditions heavily factored into the crash.
President Trump reacted to the new of the tragedy by tweeting “Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much and had such a strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating.””
Per TheIndependent, in n a statement Lockheed Martin vowed to provide assistance to the NTSB in probing the fiery crash near Calabasas that killed the NBA legend and sent shockwaves around the globe.
The Sikorsky S-76B is made by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of the firm. On the company website it is billed as an aircraft specialising in search and rescue and VIP and executive transportation. Sikorsky models are used by President Trump and nine other global heads of state.
“We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today’s Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California,’: the statement said. ‘We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer. Safety is our top priority; if there are any actionable findings from the investigation, we will inform our S-76 customers.’
The Sikorsky S-76B can carry up to 12 passengers and has a top speed of 178mph. It reportedly costs $13million.
Two crashes have been reported involving a Sikorsky S-76B in recent years.
In Canada, in 2013, an air ambulance Sikorsky crashed killing four. In 2017, seven were killed in a crash in Turkey including five Russian businessmen.
LATimes reports Kobe Bryant, 41, the legendary basketball star who spent 20 years with the Lakers, was killed Sunday morning when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed amid foggy conditions and burst into flames in the hills above Calabasas.
His daughter Gianna, 13, was also on board, NBA authorities confirmed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people were on the copter — a pilot and eight passengers. He would not confirm who had died until all the next of kin have been notified, he said. The L.A. County coroner’s office said Sunday night that the recovery effort is expected to take several days because of the condition of the crash site and its remote location. Officials have shut down roads leading to the site because of a throng of visitors trying to get there.
The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B built in 1991, departed John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. Sunday, according to publicly available flight records. The chopper passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight.
The crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street in Calabasas. Authorities received a 911 call at 9:47 a.m., and firefighters arrived to find that the crash had ignited a quarter-acre brush fire in steep terrain, said L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. Responders included 56 fire personnel — firefighters, a helicopter with paramedics, hand crews — and sheriff’s deputies.
“Our firefighters hiked into the accident site with their medical equipment and hose lines to extinguish the stubborn fire as it included the brush fire … and the helicopter,” Osby said during a news conference Sunday afternoon. “The fire also included magnesium, which is very hard for firefighters to extinguish because magnesium reacts with oxygen and water.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. The FBI is also assisting in the probe, which is standard practice. The NTSB database does not show any prior incidents or accidents for the aircraft. The helicopter was registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California secretary of state’s business database. The helicopter’s manufacturer, Sikorsky, said in a statement Sunday that it is cooperating with the investigation.
The fog was severe enough Sunday morning that the Los Angeles Police Department’s Air Support Division grounded its helicopters and didn’t fly until later in the afternoon, department spokesman Josh Rubenstein said.
“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” Rubenstein said. The fog “was enough that we were not flying.” LAPD’s flight minimums are 2 miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling, he said.
Kurt Deetz, a former pilot for Island Express Helicopters who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said weather conditions were poor in Van Nuys on Sunday morning — “not good at all.”
The crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues, he said. “The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn’t happen,” he said.
Judging from a public record of the flight path and the wide debris field, Deetz said, it appears the helicopter was traveling very fast at the time of impact, about 160 mph. After a 40-minute flight, Deetz added, the craft would have had about 800 pounds of fuel on board. “That’s enough to start a pretty big fire,” he said.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office is working on retrieving the bodies and has not officially identified any of the victims. But Orange Coast College confirmed that baseball coach John Altobelli was among the others who died in the crash. As a mentor and coach for 27 years, he helped students earn scholarships to play at four-year colleges and treated players like family, the school said in a statement.
“Coach Altobelli was a giant on our campus — a beloved teacher, coach, colleague and friend. This is a tremendous loss for our campus community,” OCC President Angelica Suarez said in a statement.
Altobelli’s wife, Keri Altobelli, and their 13-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who played on the club team with Bryant’s daughter, were also among the victims, according to his family.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department made a similar assessment about the fog and had no helicopters in the air Sunday morning “basically because of the weather,” Villanueva said.