Emergency phone calls on Kobe Bryant crash show witnesses concerned about fog
Recently released emergency 911 phone calls about the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant showed witnesses were concerned about the poor visibility due to fog and revive the tragic moment that rocked the basketball and entertainment worlds nine days ago.
The twin-engine Sikorsky S-76B slammed into a hillside and killed all nine people on board in an accident that still has many of the basketball great’s fans grieving, with more public memorials to come.
“It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I heard a pop and it immediately stopped,” one of the witnesses called into the 911 emergency services lines, according to audio released by the Los Angeles County Fire Department on Monday.
“If this guy doesn’t have night vision, I mean, he was, he’s completely IFR,” the caller said, referring to instrument flight rules.
The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was certified to fly by IFR and a flight instructor with more than 8,200 hours of flight time, officials said.
Zobayan had tried to climb out of a cloud layer when the aircraft banked sharply and dropped toward the ground with a speed of more than 2,000 feet (610 meters) per minute at impact, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Audio recordings of air traffic control revealed the pilot requested flight following, a type of constant monitoring, due to concerns about visibility, but controllers said he was flying too low to be tracked.
The 911 recordings showed witnesses also had visibility on their minds.
“I’m walking in the trail, I could hear the plane, I think it was in the clouds but couldn’t see it. Then we just heard a ‘boom’ and a dead sound and then I could see the flames,” one caller said.
Another summed up events more succinctly.
“A helicopter crashed into a mountain. We heard it, and now I’m looking at the flames,” the witness said.
Bryant won five championships in his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring as the third leading scorer in the history of the National Basketball Association. He also won an Oscar for his short animated film “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, one of her teammates, another young friend, three of their parents and coach also died on their way to a girls’ basketball game.
Super Bowl honors Kobe with moment of silenceOn football’s biggest day, they took time to remember a basketball legend.The Chiefs and 49ers finished their warmups before the Super Bowl and ... Sports
Thousands turn out to mourn Kobe Bryant as Lakers return to the courtTens of thousands of Kobe Bryant fans flooded the grounds around Staples Center on Friday ahead of his former team’s first game since his death ... Sports
Lizzo honors Kobe, celebrates Grammys at pre-Super Bowl showAt a pre-Super Bowl concert, Lizzo reflected on her soaring career as she remembered attending the big game as a teenager, watching Janet Jackson and ... Entertainment