CALABASAS, California (WCMH) — Condolences are pouring in for the victims of the Southern California helicopter crash who were on their way to a travel league basketball game when the aircraft went down, killing all nine people on board.
Kobe Bryant, Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were on their way to a travel league basketball game when the helicopter went down. Gianna shared her father’s love and talent for basketball. According to the Today Show, Gianna’s love and passion for basketball reignited Bryant’s love for the sport that made him a household name.
John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli
John was the longtime head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. The 56-year-old was aboard the aircraft with his daughter Alyssa Altobelli and wife Keri Altobelli, Orange Coast college confirmed. Alyssa was a teammate of Gigi Bryant at the Mamba Academy.
Sarah Chester, Payton Chester
Payton’s grade school principal Todd Schmidt took to social media to remember Sarah and Payton, confirming they were on the helicopter with the Bryants and Altobellis.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley tweeted that the dead also included Christina Mauser, a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school. Her husband, Matt Mauser, founded the Tijuana Dogs, a popular Orange County band. In a Facebook post he said: “My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash.”
The pilot was identified as Ara Zobayan. The NTSB said Zobayan had reported 8,200 hours of flight time by July 2019. He was commercially certified as a pilot and certified as a flight instructor.
According to the NTSB, Zoboyan told air traffic controllers in his last radio message that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer before plunging more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) into a hillside, an accident investigator said.
WATCH FULL NTSB PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW:
NTSB investigators went to the crash site in Calabasas on Monday to collect evidence.
“The debris field is pretty extensive,” Homendy said.
“A piece of the tail is down the hill,” she said. “The fuselage is on the other side of that hill. And then the main rotor is about 100 yards (91 meters) beyond that.”
Some experts suggested that the pilot might have gotten disoriented because of fog but Homendy said investigating teams would look at everything from the pilot’s history to the engines.
“We look at man, machine and the environment,” she said. “And weather is just a small portion of that.”
The pilot had asked for and received special clearance to fly in heavy fog just minutes before the crash and was flying at 1,400 feet (427 meters) when he went south and then west, Homendy said.
The pilot then asked for air traffic controllers to provide “flight following” radar assistance but was told the craft was too low for that assistance, Homendy said.
About four minutes later, “the pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer,” she said. “When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply. Radar data indicates the helicopter climbed to 2,300 feet (701 meters) and then began a left descending turn. Last radar contact was around 9:45 a.m.”
Two minutes later, someone on the ground called 911 to report the crash.
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