The helicopter that crashed Sunday in Los Angeles, killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, was flying in foggy conditions that the Los Angeles Police Department had already decided were too unsafe for their own helicopters to operate in.
The department’s Air Support division was grounded from Sunday morning until some time later that afternoon, Josh Rubenstein, a spokesperson for the LAPD, told CBS News on Sunday night.
“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” Rubenstein said, adding that the fog in the area “was enough that we were not flying.”
The department’s ideal conditions for flying are two miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling, he said, according to the outlet.
The 41-year-old basketball icon was among nine killed when his helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B, tragically crashed into a hill in Calabasas — about 30 miles away from downtown Los Angeles — on Sunday morning and burst into flames, the Associated Press reports.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna had been heading to her basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks that morning, according to CNN. Among the dead are baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa, as well as Christina Mauser, an assistant girls' basketball coach at a private school in Orange County, the outlet reports.
Page Six reports that the three remaining victims are the pilot, Ara Zobayan, and a mother and daughter, Sarah and Payton Chester.
The cause of the crash is still unknown. The Federal Aviation Authority, National Transportation Safety Board, and FBI are all investigating, according to the Associated Press
Following the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board dispatched what’s known as a “go team” of investigators to the site on Sunday, the AP reports. However, while a preliminary report of the team’s findings can be expected within 10 days, any definitive conclusions on what caused the crash can take a year or more.
Bryant’s death shocked the sports community and tributes for the late athlete have sprung up all over the world, and all across social media. In a statement shared via Twitter by his management, legendary NBA star Michael Jordan described Bryant as being a “little brother” to him.
“Words can't describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me,” he wrote. “We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force."
"Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball," he continued. "Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world."
Bryant, who retired in 2016, is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and three remaining daughters, the youngest of whom was born in June 2019.
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