Seven times aviation tragedies claimed the lives of sporting greats
The world was in disbelief once news of Kobe Bryant’s death surfaced on Sunday, January 26.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine people killed after his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California.
The group was headed to Thousand Oaks for a basketball game where Gianna was expected to play, with her dad Kobe expected to coach.
Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed everyone on board died during a news conference.
According to Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles County Fire Department chief, the helicopter crashed 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, causing a bush fire.
This is not the first time an aviation tragedy has claimed the lives of popular sportsmen.
GameYetu takes a look at five instances where aircraft accidents killed popular sports people.
On January 2019, a light aircraft transporting Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala crashed in the English Channel. The flight was headed to Cardiff, England from Nantes, France, where the player was meant to join the English club, then in the Premier League.
The wreckage was discovered 13 days later on the sea bed, with only Sala’s body being recovered. The pilot’s body was never found.
Zambia National Football team plane crash – 1993
In April 1993, an aircraft belonging to the Zambian Air Force crashed into the Atlantic Ocean a few minutes after taking off from Libreville, Gabon. Ob-board the flight was the Zambian national football team which was headed to a FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Senegal in Dakar. All 25 people on-board died, with investigations concluding the pilot had shut down the wrong engine. The pilot was also found to have fatigue and possessed a faulty instrument.
Chapecoense Football Team 2017
In November 2017, a plane carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense crashed as it approached Medellin, Colombia, killing 71 of the 77 people on-board.
Lamia Flight 2933, a chartered flight, was meant to transport the Chapecoense team from Bolivia to Colombia, where they were scheduled to play in the finals of the Copa Sudamericana.
Authorities cited fuel exhaustion, pilot error and inadequate planning as reasons for the crash.
Manchester United (Munich disaster 1958)
On February 6th 1958, a British European Airways Flight carrying the whole Manchester United team (the Busby babes), fans and journalists crashed as it attempted to take off at Munich-Riem Airport, Germany. Of the 44 people on-board, only 21 managed to survive.
The team was returning to Manchester form a European Cup clash in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Reports claim the flight stopped in Munich for a fuel refill, but the pilots twice failed to take off and crashed the plane in the third attempt.
As he flew ICON A5 amphibious plane, American professional baseball player Roy Halladay crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida in 2017.
According to reports, Haladay was the only person on board and did not give any distress signal before going down.
Autopsy reports later revealed the baseball star had traces of alcohol, a sleeping aid and morphine in his system as he flew the plane. His no. 34 jersey was retired by his club the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018 as he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame the next year.
Another American baseball professional Thurman Munson also lost his life through and aviation accident.
Munson, in 1979, was believed to have been practicing landing his Cessna Citation aircraft at the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio.
Munson broke his neck in the crash and died of asphyxiation (suffocation). His team, the Yankees retires his no. 15 jersey, commemorating him at Monument Park.
Colin McRae- 2007
In 2007 former rally driver Colin McRae died after crashing his helicopter near his home. The accident killed his son and two family friends.
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