Three bodies recovered from scene of tragic Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

By Mirror: Tuesday, January 28th 2020 at 09:03 GMT +3 | Sports
Investigators work at the scene of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles officials are believed to have recovered three bodies from the crash site where Kobe Bryant died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant, 41, was among the nine tragic victims killed in the crash in Southern California on Sunday morning.

TMZ now report that three bodies have been recovered - but officials have not yet identified them and no official statement has been made.

It is understood officials worked into the late hours of Sunday night but were forced to suspend their search due to safety concerns and darkness, resuming their on-site investigation on Monday. 

Among those who also died were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa and Harbor Day School assistant coach Christina Mauser.

Another young player, Payton Chester, was also killed in the crash along with her mother Sarah Chester, along with tragic pilot Ara Zobayan.

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Five-time NBA champion Bryant, 41, was among the nine tragic victims killed in the crash in Southern California on Sunday morning [COURTESY]

Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy and were flying from Orange County to Thousand Oaks to attend a game, OCC assistant coach Ron La Ruffa told CNN.

Reports have also emerged claiming that the helicopter flying Bryant and Co plummeted nearly 500 feet in just 15 seconds before smashing into an LA hillside.

Flight radars show the helicopter circle around for 15 minutes and tried to turn before crashing.

Recovery work at the crash site is expected to take several days and a 5-mile no-fly zone was set up by the FAA.

The chopper is said to have caught fire after going down, as emergency services battled in vain to save those on board.

Bryant regularly used his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to travel to and from matches at the Staples Centre, the LA Lakers' home stadium.

The site of the crash is close to the homes of stars including the Kardashians and Drake, who all live in Calabasas.

Widely considered one of the best basketball players ever and one of the highest profile sporting figures in the US, Bryant's death was mourned around the world.

Thousands gathered in Los Angeles - where Bryant spent his entire glittering 20-year NBA career - to pay tribute with a vigil outside the Staples Center, home of the shooting guard's LA Lakers team.

A shrine to Bryant - who became an Oscar winner in 2018 for Best Animated Short Film for 'Dear Basketball', which he wrote and narrated - has been set up outside the stadium, complete with candles, flowers and photographs from fans.

The light towers surrounding Los Angeles International Airport were illuminated in purple and gold on Sunday, in homage to the colours of Bryant's Lakers jersey.

Los Angeles City Hall was similarly lit up in the famous purple.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the organisation was "devastated" by the news.

"For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning," he said in a statement.

"He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.

"But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.

"He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."

 

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