A day after the tragic helicopter crash that killed basketball legend, his 13 year old daughter Gianna, and 7 others, officials are blaming extreme weather conditions that had grounded other helicopters from flying.
Per FoxNews, officials in Los Angeles said late Sunday that dense fog in Southern California likely played a role in the deadly crash in Calabasas that claimed the lives of nine people, including NBA great Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter.
Several experts pointed to the poor flying conditions in the area and said fog will likely play a key part in the investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported. Dense fog covered the area and continued to hang low on the Santa Monica mountain range hours after the crash.
The Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
“The weather conditions did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” Josh Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told the paper. He pointed out that the department’s Air Support Division did not fly helicopters early on due to the conditions.
Around the time of the crash, L.A. Times’ Richard Winton reported that the mountains were “fogged in.”
“It [didn’t] sound right and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as it was so foggy,” Jerry Kocharian, a witness, told the Los Angeles Times.
InsideHook reports though multiple agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, are still in the early stages of investigating the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, some details about the hillside have started to emerge.
One of them is that, according to The Associated Press, the helicopter carrying Bryant and the rest of his party on Sunday was flying in foggy conditions that were deemed dangerous enough that local police agencies had grounded their choppers.
“We do know there was an issue with visibility and a low ceiling,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Sunday evening. “The actual conditions at the time of impact, that is still yet to be determined.”
Flying in poor visibility which was noted by air traffic controllers, the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter climbed to more than 2,000 feet before plunging from the sky and slamming into a hillside in Calabasas at about 1,400 feet.
When it hit the ground, the helicopter was flying at about 184 miles per hour and descending at a rate of more than 4000 feet per minute, according to data from Flightradar24.
The impact of the crash scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and Los Angeles County medical examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said it would take a couple of days to recover all the remains so official identifications can be made.
In addition to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in the crash. The other confirmed victims are Orange Coast College baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa. The sixth confirmed victim is Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach, USA Today reports.