9 People Who Died in The Horrific Kobe Bryant Helicopter Tragedy - Calabasas
Updated: Jan 28
January 27, 2020
The morning after the shocking death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Giana in a tragic helicopter crash that killed all nine people on board on Sunday off Las Virgenes Canyon Road in Calabasas, California. People are still in disbelief that Bryant is really gone as fans in Los Angeles flood the Staples Center to pay tribute to the former NBA star and his daughter, Giana.
Bryant was known to charter helicopters out of Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. A Sikorsky S-76 chopper departed John Wayne at 9:06 a.m. Sunday (according to publicly available flight records) descending into a thick fog that covered areas of Southern California as the helicopter made its way from Orange County to Los Angeles.
The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was given clearance to fly in worse than normal weather, according to recordings of his communications with air traffic controllers. During the flight, the pilot apparently requested “flight following,” a process in which controllers are in regular contact with an aircraft and can help them navigate.
The tower is heard telling the pilot the chopper is too low for flight following before the conversation ends. There did not appear to be a distress call. Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the helicopter turned again toward the southeast and climbed to more than 2,000 feet. It then descended and crashed into a remote hillside in Calabasas at about 1,400 feet, according to data from Flightradar24.
When the chopper struck the ground, it was flying at about 184 mph and descending at a rate of over 4,000 feet per minute, the data showed. The debris from the crash covered a football field-sized area. Investigators are working to determine what caused the helicopter to go down.
Bryant was scheduled to coach Sunday in a game against the Fresno Lady Heat at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks and was en route there when the helicopter crashed into a remote. The tournament, called the Mamba Cup, featured boys’ and girls’ travel teams from fourth through eighth grades. Bryant’s daughter Gianna was scheduled to play.
Among the 9 victims are: 41-year-old Kobe Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Giana Bryant died alongside pilot Ara Zobayan, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser, college baseball coach John Altobelli and his daughter Alyssa Altobelli and wife, Keri Altobelli. Altobelli was a highly long-standing baseball coach of 27 years at Orange Coast College. He let the Pirates to four state community college championships and over 700 victories at the school.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in California Sunday to begin documenting the tragic scene. The investigation will examine weather data, radar information, air traffic control communications, maintenance logs and the pilot’s record.
The Federal Aviation Administration are also investigating the crash along with the FBI. 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.
Tributes across the globe have erected in honor of Bryant’s legacy and loss along with the other victims involved. In addition to Giana "Mambacita" , Kobe and Vanessa are parents to Natalia Bryant, 17, Bianka Bryant, 3, and Capri Bryant, 7 months. Our thoughts are with all the families affected by this tragedy during this heart-breaking time.