Kobe Bryant’s autopsy revealed his cause of death and details on the helicopter crash that claimed his life along with the lives of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others including friends and a coach.
No one survived the crash January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California. The nine victims died from blunt force trauma, according to reports issued by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner. You can read more details about the crash, text messages sent before the flight and a report on the crash from the National Transportation Safety Board here.
The group was on their way to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a youth basketball tournament when they crashed into a mountainside. The deceased were Gianna Bryant’s friends and teammates, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, and Payton Chester, 13, their parents, John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46, and Sarah Chester, 45, coach Christina Mauser, 39, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
The tragic crash is back in the news for a trial that started August 10, 2022, regarding photos graphic photos from the crash.
Here’s what you need to know:
Autopsy Reports Reveal the Brutality of the Crash That Killed 9 People Instantly
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner issued a report saying Bryant died from blunt force trauma and ruled his manner of death as an accident. He was 41 years old when he died in Calabasas, California January 26, 2020.
The full autopsy report describes the brutality of the crash through the injuries it caused, including dismemberment and burns that left several of its victims unrecognizable. However, those killed in the crash were not left to suffer, Bryant’s autopsy report noted.
“These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal,” Senior Deputy Medical Examiner Juan Carrillo wrote in Bryant’s report.
Flames engulfed the helicopter wreckage, but burns to the bodies were determined to be caused after they were already dead, the report said. Kobe Bryant had post-mortem burns on 30% of his body.
Bryant’s body was found on the ground outside the helicopter. He was identified by his fingerprints, the report said. However, there were small details that were preserved and captured his personal life and personality. The report said he was wearing “multicolored court shoes.” On his shoulder was a tattoo of a crown and his wife’s name, Vanessa. On his lower right arm, he had tattooed the names of four of his five daughters: Bianka Bella, Natalia Diamante and Gianna Maria-Onore.
His youngest daughter, Capri Kobe, was 7 months old when her dad died, according to ESPN.
There Were No Signs of Mechanical Failure That Led to the Crash & No Drugs Were Listed as Contributing Factors
The pilot did not have drugs or alcohol in his system, his autopsy report said. The report noted that Bryant had a prescribed drug in his system, methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board said there were no signs of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76B. There were low clouds obscuring the hillside and fog. Text messages showed discussions about the weather in the hours leading up to the crash, but they determined it would be safe to fly. Read more about that here.
A press release from the NTSB issued in February 2021 said that the pilot executed “poor decision making” in the decision to fly. He experienced “spatial disorientation and loss of control” that led to the fatal crash, the press release said.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see these same issues influence poor decision making among otherwise experienced pilots in aviation crashes,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Had this pilot not succumbed to the pressures he placed on himself to continue the flight into adverse weather, it is likely this accident would not have happened. A robust safety management system can help operators like Island Express provide the support their pilots need to help them resist such very real pressures.”
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