Basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California.
Kobe’s daughter, 13, Gianna Maria Onore aka GiGi was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash.
They were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred.
TMZ reports that the flight tracker data shows Kobe’s chopper appeared to first encounter weather issues as it was above the L.A. Zoo. It circled that area at least 6 times at a very low altitude — around 875 feet — perhaps waiting for the fog to clear.
Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived. 5 people were confirmed dead.
At around 9:40 AM they encounter heavy fog and the chopper turned south. This was critical because they turned toward a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly and rapidly climbed from about 1200 feet up to 2000 feet.
However, moments later — around 9:45 AM — they flew into a mountain at 1700 feet. Flight tracker data shows they were flying at about 161 knots.
According to TMZ, eyewitnesses say that they heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down. Flames and smoke covered much of the scene from the wreck. The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years, dating back to when he played for the Lakers.
Kobe is survived by his wife Vanessa. Together, they have four daughters; Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri. Kobe and Vanessa got married in 2001 after meeting in 1999.
He was 41 years old. RIP.
Michael Jordan has spoken on Kobe’s death, saying, “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.”
Adding, “He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”