According to a report from ESPN, the helicopter that was set to transport Bryant and eight others to his daughters basketball game in Thousand Oaks crashed into a hillside.
Details of The Crash
The helicopter was climbing a left turn approximately 2,400 feet above the ground before it dove to the ground.
The report stated that the pilot had contacted air traffic controllers and told them that he had started an ascension to “go above the layer” of clouds present that morning.
ESPN reviewed audio recordings that revealed that an air traffic controller informed the pilot that he was flying too low. The air traffic controller said, “still too low level for flight following.”
This means that the aircraft could not be picked up by the radar because of the hills in Southern California.
Further audio recordings stated that air traffic controllers noticed poor visibility around the area of Burbank, which was north of the helicopter and Van Nuys, which was northwest of the helicopter.
The pilot was receiving guidance from air traffic controllers during the flight as he flew the helicopter into what was reported to be thick fog.
The helicopter was still cleared for flight and was scheduled to proceed north towards Burbank before heading west towards Ventura Highway.
Things quickly turned for the worst after 9:40 AM when the helicopter turned another time.
This time it was headed southeast. The helicopter elevated to more than 2,000 feet above sea level and then fell to 1,400 feet as it crashed into the hillside.
Data showed that the helicopter was traveling at approximately 184 mph and descended at a rate of 45 mph, that is equivalent to 4,000 feet per minute.
Cause of The Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board was in the process of sending a team of investigators to the crash site.
The team can usually send out a report in about 10 days to highlight the findings of the investigation. However, the true cause of the crash may not be know for quite some time.
Investigators must take a look at a myriad of different issues that may have affected the helicopter. The pilot’s history, the chopper’s maintenance history and the record of its owner and operator will all be reviewed carefully.
An official statement confirming the cause of the crash could take more than a year.
Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history and a world renowned sports figure.
He is the only player in NBA history to have two different jersey numbers retired by the same franchise. Both number 8 and number 24 jerseys hang in the rafters of Staple Center to honor the basketball legend.
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and his other three daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
Bryant’s legacy will live on as one of the most influential sports figures of his time and his impact on an entire generation of young athletes will last long after his time on Earth.