The bodies of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others who died in a helicopter crash have been recovered from a Calabasas hillside, coroner officials said Tuesday.
Authorities on Sunday recovered the bodies of at least three victims from the helicopter wreckage. The next day, the search continued for the six remaining victims. Their bodies were eventually located and taken to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s forensic science center, where officials will work to identify them.
Authorities investigating the devastating incident said the impact of the crash was intense, shattering the chopper and sending debris over a wide area.
“This was a pretty devastating accident,” National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jennifer Homendy said. “There is an impact area on one of the hills, and a piece of the tail is down the hill on the left side of the hill. The fuselage is on the other side of that hill. Then the main rotor is about hundred yards beyond that. The debris field is about 500 to 600 feet.”
The Calabasas hillside has become a pilgrimage point for thousands of fans and tourists, prompting Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials to urge the public to stay way. Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a warning, saying it is a misdemeanor to enter the crash site and that those found in the area will face arrest. Deputies are patrolling the site on horseback and ATVs, he said.
Several individuals tried to get into the area Sunday after the deadly crash and were sent away by law enforcement.
“We had people trying to access the site on foot,” Villanueva said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had an inordinate amount of interest in accessing the crash site by unauthorized personnel.”
The investigation into the cause of the crash is still in its early stages. But Homendy provided new details Monday about the final moments of the flight, which was taking Bryant and his group from Orange County to his basketball camp in Thousand Oaks, where the retired NBA player was scheduled to coach a game. Bryant’s daughter Gianna, who attended Harbor Day School in Newport Beach, was scheduled to play.
Accompanying the Bryants were John Altobelli, 56, the longest-tenured baseball coach in Orange Coast College history; his wife, Keri, 46; their daughter, Alyssa, 13; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at the Mamba Academy; Sarah Chester, 45; and Chester’s daughter, Payton, 13.
Just before crashing into the hillside, the pilot rapidly ascended to avoid a cloud layer, according to the NTSB.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, Richard Winton, Hannah Fry, and Andrew J. Campa