Loading
Breaking
Now Reading: STEEP HILLSIDE | 3 bodies recovered from Kobe heli crash site
STEEP HILLSIDE | 3 bodies recovered from Kobe heli crash site
January 28, 2020 , 11:46 AM

CALABASAS, Calif. (Reuters) — The pilot of Kobe Bryant’s ill-fated helicopter was flying too low to be monitored in fog, air traffic controller recordings showed on Monday, as coroner’s investigators said they had recovered three bodies from the crash site and were searching for more remains.

The Sikorsky S-76 chopper slammed into a steep hillside on Sunday outside Calabasas, California, about 40 miles (65 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, killing all nine people on board, igniting a brush fire and spreading debris over hundreds of feet of grassy terrain.

The National Transportation Board is calling for the public to give it any photographs or video that might have been taken of the weather in the area of the helicopter wreck, which it said left a “devastating accident scene.”

The NTSB offered no update on the search for victims but said investigators were expected to be on the scene for as many as five days.

The dense fog, and its role in the crash, came under scrutiny on Monday as fans, friends and relatives of the retired NBA great confronted the reality that the charismatic 41-year-old and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among those on board who died.

Bryant, who won five NBA championships in his 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, was known since his playing days to travel frequently by helicopter to avoid the Los Angeles area’s glacial traffic.

LAKERS GAME CANCELED

The National Basketball Association canceled a game scheduled for Staples Center on Tuesday between the Lakers and their crosstown rivals, the Clippers.

“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday,” the NBA said.

In addition to the Bryants, the crash devastated three other families linked to the Mamba Sports Academy on their way to a girls’ basketball tournament: a husband and wife with their 13-year-old daughter; a mother and her 13-year-old daughter; and a basketball coach who was also a mother.

The ninth victim was the pilot, Ara Zobayan, an experienced former flight instructor who was instrument-rated, or qualified to fly in fog, according to multiple U.S. media accounts.

Witnesses recounted thick fog over the foothills where the helicopter went down. The fog was so bad that both the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department grounded their helicopter fleets, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing officials.

Air traffic controllers gave the pilot “Special Visual Flight Rules,” or clearance to fly in less than optimal weather around the Burbank airport.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official noted a pilot “does not get a general, or blanket, clearance from the FAA to fly in these conditions. A pilot is responsible for determining whether it is safe to fly in current and expected conditions.”

Moreover, the pilot apparently requested “flight following,” or constant tracking from controllers, but was informed he was flying too low to be picked up by air traffic control radar. It is unclear if the pilot heard the comment as it came near the end of the doomed flight.

“Two echo x-ray, you’re still too low level for flight following at this time,” an air traffic controller told the pilot, according to publicly available audio of the conversation that was posted by several aviation websites.

‘LOWER AND LOWER’

The radio traffic audio indicates the pilot tried to remain below clouds in order to remain in visual contact with the ground and avoid flying on instruments, said Gary Robb, an aviation lawyer and author of the book “Helicopter Crash Litigation.”

Robb said it was “certainly possible” that the pilot was “flying so low to get under the cloud cover that he clipped the top of that mountain that extended into the clouds.”

“The dialogue between the pilot and air traffic control leads me to believe … he kept wanting to go lower and lower, beneath the fog and ceiling, as we call it, and that could have led him to fly so low that he flew into the mountain,” Robb said.

The pilot, in his transmissions, “was calm and controlled the whole time,” Robb said, calling the communications “extremely normal and routine.”

Investigators also would have to consider mechanical failure, Robb said, although he described the Sikorsky twin-engine turbo helicopter as a “reliable” and “generally safe” aircraft.

The mourning continued a day after Bryant’s death. After Lakers fans spontaneously built a shrine to Bryant near the Staples Center where he played his home games, fans left flowers and Bryant jerseys at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia, where Bryant played before joining the NBA.

In Hollywood, movie celebrities including Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt took part in a moment of silence to honor Bryant at the start of the annual Academy Award nominees luncheon. Bryant, an Oscar winner for the animated short film ‘Dear Basketball,’ attended the lunch two years ago.

In New York, early morning commuters emerging from Penn Station stopped for a silent moment before an enormous electronic billboard lit up with Bryant’s image outside Madison Square Garden.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Calabasas, California and and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York, Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Peter Cooney

More From News5
Kinompronta ni Calida ang isang ABS CBN reporter
"Ikaw, lagi mo akong binabanatan ha." Kinompronta ni Solicitor General Jose Calida ang isang reporter ng ABS-CBN nang manghingi ito ng kopya ng petition for quo warranto para sa pagpapawalang-bisa ng prangkisa ng network.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Nilinaw ni Sec. Panelo ang naging confusion sa pagkansela sa VFA
Ipinaliwanag ni Sec. Salvador Panelo na nagkalituhan daw sa tenses na ginamit kaya magkaiba ang naging pahayag nila ni Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana tungkol sa pagpapasa ng termination notice ng Visiting Forces Agreement sa Amerika. Sinabi rin ni Panelo na mas mahalagang malaman na hindi magbabago ang isip ng Pangulo sa isyu.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Babaeng astronaut na bumalik sa mundo, gumawa ng record
328 na araw nananatili sa space ang American astronaut na si Christina Koch. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Inflation forecast para sa 2020, itinaas ng BSP
Posibleng pumalo sa 3% ang inflation o kabuuang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin at serbisyo ngayong taon, batay sa pagtataya ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Babaeng nagpa-inject ng glutathione, nasawi
Namatay matapos atakihin sa puso ang isang babae sa Maynila ilang oras lang matapos magpa-inject ng glutathione sa isang spa. | Jen Calimon. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Doktor na binansagang nCoV-whistleblower, namatay dahil sa virus
Sinasabing si Doctor Li Wenliang ang unang nagbabala tungkol sa kumakalat na virus pero kinatisgo umano siya ng mga pulis dahil sa pagpapakalat daw ng tsismis. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 17, 2020
Virgin coconut oil kontra nCoV, bukas na pag-aralan ng DOST
Bukas ang DOST na suriin kung makatutulong ang virgin coconut oil kontra 2019 novel coronavirus na base sa pag-aaral ni Dr. Fabian Dayrit ng Ateneo de Manila University. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 17, 2020
TWG on motorcycle taxi, pinagrereport ng Kamara kada linggo
Nasabon ang technical working group dahil sa pagpayag na itaas ang fleet cap sa Metro Manila matapos na makipagkasundo sa Angkas at sa mga senador. | via Gerard de la Peña. For more videos, visit us at www.news5.com.ph.
Published On: February 4, 2020
No Chinese ban — Palace
Nilinaw ng Malacañang na hindi pa rin ipinagbabawal ang pagpasok ng mga Chinese sa Pilipinas sa kabila ng banta ng 2019-nCoV
Published On: February 4, 2020
P3-M na kush sa condo
Naaresto ang tatlong lalaking nahulihan ng high-grade marijuana at ecstacy sa loob ng condominium sa Taguig.
Published On: February 4, 2020
Top Stories
EDSA @ 34 | People Power aftermath abolished (but) restored ‘old order’
By Anthony Divinagracia (EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published on February 25, 2019 and was reposted with additional details in line wi
Published On: February 25, 2020
WRONGFUL DEATH | Vanessa Bryant sues helicopter operator for fatal crash
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES, FEBRUARY 24, 2020 (Reuters) – The widow of Los Angeles basketball great Kobe Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsu
Published On: February 25, 2020
#RIPKOBE | Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe as her ‘everything’
FEBRUARY 25, 2020 (REUTERS) – Kobe Bryant was remembered Monday as a man of passion, as a fierce competitor who turned his fire for basketbal
Published On: February 25, 2020
ABS-CBN FRANCHISE ISSUE | ABS-CBN publicly apologizes to Duterte over 2016 political ad issue
(FEBRUARY 24, 2020) – The country’s largest broadcast network on Monday publicly apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte for its failure to
Published On: February 24, 2020
NEW COVID OUTBREAK | Nograles says government still studying to impose travel ban on South Korea
FEBRUARY 24, 2020 – The government’s inter-agency task force on emerging infectious diseases has to decide yet to impose a travel ban o
Published On: February 24, 2020