LOS ANGELES COUNTY, California (KETK) – The bodies of all nine people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, have been recovered from the crash site.
According to Los Angeles County officials, remains of at least three victims were recovered Sunday, and the remaining six were recovered Monday, All have now been taken to the LA County coroner’s forensic science center for identification
The helicopter left Santa Ana in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m., heading north and then west. Bryant was believed to be headed for his youth sports academy in nearby Thousand Oaks, which was holding a basketball tournament Sunday in which Bryant’s daughter, known as Gigi, was competing.
Air traffic controllers noted poor visibility around Burbank to the north and Van Nuys to the northwest. At one point, the controllers instructed the chopper to circle because of other planes in the area before proceeding.
“We also worked with drones today to help the air worthiness group locate those significant components and continue to document the scene. Then, we duplicated part of the flight path, so we flew part of the end part of the flight path with our drones,” said Jennifer Homendy, NTSB Board Member.
The aircraft crashed about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. When it struck the ground, it was flying at about 184 mph and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute, according to data from Flightradar24.
Federal investigators are working to collect and examine evidence in an effort to unravel the mystery of what caused the crash. National Transportation Safety Board members have been using drones to document the scene, and FBI agents are sifting through the 600-foot debris field.
“We were able to recover an iPad and a cell phone. We do not know if that’s the pilot’s iPad. So, we’re going to take those personal electronic devices, we’re going to send them back to our lab at headquarters for further analysis,” said Homendy.
The area where the helicopter went down has become a sort of pilgrimage site for fans of Bryant and the Lakers, drawing thousands of the curious and the grieving since the crash.
“We know the helicopter was at 2,300 feet when it lost communication with air traffic control. The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 feet a minute, so we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” said Homendy.
That has prompted Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to warn the public that it is misdemeanor offense to enter the crash site and that those found in the area would face arrest. Deputies are patrolling the site on horseback and ATVs.
Killed in the crash with the Bryants were John Altobelli, 56, longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College; his wife, Keri, 46; their daughter, Alyssa, 13; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at the Mamba Academy; Sarah Chester, 45; Chester’s daughter, Payton, 13; and the pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan.