City of LA Flags Lowered to Half-Staff after Kobe Bryant, 13-Year-Old Daughter and 7 Others Die in Crash

Ameera Butt
January 27, 2020 - 8:37 am
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The helicopter that was carrying retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his daughter, was flying in foggy conditions Sunday from Orange County towards Burbank and then west along the 101.

All victims have been ID-ed. 

The recovery of the bodies continued Monday.  The cause of the crash is under investigation by the FAA and NTSB.

The victims include Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, middle-school player Payton Chester and her mother Sarah Chester along with Christina Mauser, who was a girl's basketball coach at a private school in Corona del Mar. The ninth victim was the chopper's pilot,50-year-old Ara Zobayan, who owned and also flew-for the company "Island Express Helicopters."

Flags will be lowered to half-staff Monday to honor the victims of the crash, the Mayor of LA tweeted Monday morning.

Weather conditions will be a key focus of the crash investigation.

But during the trip north from Orange County where the flight originated, the pilot never reported any major issues as he got updates from control towers along the way.

LA Police Department choppers were grounded Sunday due to the weather conditions.

The NTSB sent a team of 18 people to investigate the crash Sunday night, according to a story by the Associated Press.

The twin-engine Sikorsky S-76 crashed before 10 a.m. in Calabasas Sunday. It was first reported by TMZ

The occupants were on their way to a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. 

The former LA Lakers star, who retired in 2016, was a 5-time NBA Champion and played for the iconic team for 20 years.

A total of nine people were on board, including Bryant and his daughter. 

Bryant and his wife Vanessa have four daughters together, including Gianna.

Officials are directing the public to mourn at Juan Bautista de Anza Park at 3701 Lost Hills Road in Agoura Hills.

The FAA issued a statement Sunday:

REACTION TO THE DEATHS

The Grammys Sunday night included a tribute to the "Black Mamba," and thousands of mourners gathered at Staples Center Sunday. 

Officials and other NBA stars shared their grief online in poignant messages.

Michael Jordan posted a statement saying "I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words cannot describe the pain I'm feeling." 

Magic Johnson tweeted: "Kobe and I shared so many special conversations about life and basketball. We had so much in common off the court. I used to love talking to him about Lakers basketball, being fathers and husbands and how much we loved Italy. I will miss those conversations and him so much."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on NBA.com Sunday saying 

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.  He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary:  five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.  But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.  He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna. "

Shaq responded to the news saying that there were no words to express the pain he's going through.

Others also chimed in with sorrow, thoughts and prayers including head coach of the LA Clippers, Doc Rivers.

Mourners were camped outside of the Staples Center Sunday with flowers and cards -- all in No. 24 and 8 jerseys of purple and gold.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also put out a Twitter message saying "Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete."

The crash happened in the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road, according to the LA Sheriff's Department on social media.

LA Sheriff's Department tweeted photos from the scene Sunday morning:

"#Malibu deputies at crash site looking for survivors, 4200 blk Las Virgenes Rd," the tweet said.

LA County Fire Department tweeted that personnel were working on a multiple fatality helicopter crash in Calabasas.

"Battalion 5 units working a multiple fatality helicopter crash in #Calabasas the #NTSB is currently in route to this incident. @LASDHQ is on scene and assisting."

Twitter and social media were ablaze with tributes and heartbroken tweets.