- Basketball icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California. He was 41.
- Several news outlets reported that Bryant was in his private helicopter.
- Nine people died in the crash, according to the Los Angeles sheriff.
- There was no black box aboard the Sikorsky S-76 aircraft, and the cause of the crash is still under investigation.
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Basketball icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California, roughly 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. He was 41.
Several news outlets reported Bryant was in his private helicopter with several other people when it crashed.
The Los Angeles sheriff said nine people died in the crash, which happened at about 10 a.m.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub said in a press conference on Sunday.
Weintraub said that the helicopter crashed in a field and no one on the ground was hurt. Authorities said the helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76 model.
On Monday, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a briefing and said drones were mapping out the area of the wreckage. The FBI is assisting with evidence collection, the transportation officials said.
The local coroner was still gathering the remains of the victims on Monday.
The NTSB said the disposition of the helicopter at the time of the crash was not yet clear. Pieces of the helicopter were scattered around the hillside near the main impact point. The debris field spans as wide as about 600 feet.
NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy called crash scene “pretty devastating” and said that survival would have been unlikely. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
The NTSB is still investigating if weather played a role and called on members of the public to send in photos of the weather in the area in order to assess flying conditions on the day of the crash.
“Initial information shows the helicopter was flying under visual flight rules from John Wayne Airport to just southeast of Burbank Airport,” Homendy said about the helicopter’s flight path.
Homendy said that the helicopter circled for 12 minutes while awaiting clearance from air traffic controllers. Then, the helicopter climbed to around 2,300 feet to avoid a cloud layer and shortly after started a descening left turn.
The last radar contact with the helicopter was around 9:45 a.m., consistent to the accident’s location.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the department is protecting the area surrounding the crash to prevent trespassers from accessing the site.
Pepperdine Graphic, Pepperdine University’s student-run newspaper, published a tweet on Sunday that showed an image of what appeared to be the helicopter and smoke in the distance.
An NBA legend
Bryant spent his 20-season career entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the third all-time scorer in the NBA and won five NBA championships.
He was born August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia but for most of his childhood lived in Italy, where his father played basketball. In 1996 Bryant joined the NBA after graduating from high school.
Bryant was often referred to by his self-given nickname “Black Mamba,” a type of snake, which signified his prowess and competitive attitude. Bryant was the second-highest-paid NBA player of all time, having earned an estimated $US323 million from his NBA career salary alone.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016.
Bryant was married to Vanessa Bryant with whom he had four children: Bianka, Gianna, Natalia, and Capri, their youngest child, who was born in June.