The Calabasas Helicopter Crash

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3 years ago
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It's been a year later (January 26, 2020) when 9 people aboard a commercial helicopter en route from John Wayne Airport to Camarillo Airport. Everyone on board was killed on impact, as Basketball fans around the world condole one of the greatest ballers of his generation.

What happened?

The helicopter used was a Sikorsky S-76B, registration N72EX deported John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. The group was en route to a basketball game at Kobe's Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. The chopper passed over Boyle Heights and circled over Glendale during the flight. At 9:47 a.m., witnesses dialed 911 as the helicopter crashed, and ignited by a brush fire near the intersection of Las Virgenes Road & Willow Glen Street in Calabasas, California. First responders arrived on the scene as they tried to extinguish the fire.

The Aftermath?

Hours after the incident, Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff stated nine people were on board, but they cannot confirm who was on board the aircraft until TMZ confirms Kobe's death. The tabloid online newspaper was later criticized for reporting the story before confirming their identities. Alex said it would take several days because of the crash site's condition, they shut down the roads leading to the site possibly visitors would try to get there.

"It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one had perished and you learn about it through TMZ."

Let the authorities do their job while the media gathers first the intel you need so you can create the story, either if it is developing or the other way around. Where the hell did they get their source anyway? 2 days later (January 28, 2020), all bodies were recovered on the crash site followed by an autopsy report. Who was onboard?

Top from left to right: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli. Bottom from left to right: Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Peyton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.

1. Ara Zobayan - Instructor, and a sought-after pilot as he has flown other celebrities like Kylie Jenner, and Kawhi Leonard.

2. Kobe Bryant - Ara's client, and often took helicopters to avoid traffic. For 20 years (1996-2016), he played for the L.A. Lakers with 5 NBA Championships, 2008's Most Valuable Player, 2-time MVP NBA Finals, and served his country with the U.S. national team for the Olympics in '08 & '12 as he won 2 gold medals.

3. Gianna Bryant - an 8th Grader at Harbor Day School. A rising youth star as she inherited her father's passion in Basketball, and ofter seen court-side every Lakers game.

4. John Altobelli - A college baseball coach of the Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. For 27 seasons, he led the Pirates to 4 state junior college titles. 2 years ago, he was given an award by the American Baseball Coaches Association as the National Coach of the Year.

5. Keri Altobelli - John's wife, and mother of three.

6. Alyssa Altobelli - an 8th Grader at Horace Ensign Intermediate School. John & Keri's daughter.

7. Christina Mauser - a Basketball coach and teacher at Harbor Day School. Beloved wife and mother of three.

8. Sarah Chester - a mother of three, and former teacher.

9. Payton Chester - an 8th Grader at St. Margaret's Episcopal School. They play on the same team & share the same passion with Gianna.

The first four bodies were identified through fingerprints, and five other bodies were identified after testing and analysis 2 days later (January 30, 2020). On February 1, 2020, it is confirmed that Kobe & Gianna were on board, including 7 other passengers. Vanessa Bryant filed a case on February 24, 2020, against the company that was transporting the passengers including pilot Ara Zobayan.

The National Basketball Association, players, staff, fans, and legends mourn his death. Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James cannot believe what happened. For James, he will continue the Black Mamba's legacy and won last year's season of the NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat in Game 6. For O'Neal, he felt the loss of a little brother, both of them were teammates and the ultimate combo on the hardwood until O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat on July 14, 2004. Michael Jordan remembers when he faced 18-year-old Kobe in 1996 as he shared his experiences with Kobe. Fans gather at Staples Center in a makeshift memorial as they pay tribute from flowers, notes, and jerseys were lay down, while all matches of the NBA pay tribute for 24 seconds after jump-ball.

The Football universe condoles to the loss of Kobe Bryant, aside from playing Basketball he's also good at Football and a big fan of the following clubs: FC Barcelona, A.C. Milan, and Manchester City.

The Rossoneri's wore black armbands and offer a minute of silence as tribute in their match against Torino for the Coppa Italia on January 28, 2020. Neymar scored his 2nd goal against Lille OSC as he strikes out Bryant's Jersey Number towards the camera, then offered a prayer to the heavens. Filipino hoop players and fans also mourn his death. In the City of Taguig, the crumbling tenement of Fort Bonifacio has a basketball court and became a sanctuary for the youth as they play Basketball. The court turned to an art mural as a tribute to Kobe & Gianna (pictured below).

Is the investigation ongoing? Yes, it is, and I cannot find any other sources upon writing this article if the investigation is closed or dismissed. 3 agencies are investigating the helicopter crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for assisting in the probe. The wreckage was transported for further analysis by investigators of the NTSB, while security around the crash site remained in place. Sikorsky Aircraft, the manufacturer of the helicopter used in the incident is also cooperating with the investigation.

NTSB released an "investigative update" on February 7, 2020, and it shows there was no engine failure, the blades were consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The impact crater was 24-feet-by-15 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, the main wreckage was about 127 feet away from the point of initial impact at an angle of 347⁰ where it was consumed by fire. Much of the helicopter, cabin, cockpit, and instrumentation was "highly fragmented" and destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire.

The death of Kobe, his daughter Gianna and other victims taught us that life is short, you would never know when is it going to be, but always be grateful and appreciate that you're still alive, so make every day count. For Kobe, he left a mark on the hardwood, a legacy that marked the hearts of every hoop fan, the mentality of the Black Mamba.

Sources:

Lead Image from https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ntsb-releases-footage-of-calabasas-helicopter-crash

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kobe-bryant-helicopter-crash-tmz-scolded-los-angeles-police-department-after-outlet-reports-on-victims-indentities/

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-01-26/aircraft-slams-into-hillside-explodes-in-flames-near-calabasas

https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/kobe-gianna-bryant-victims-calabasas-helicopter-crash-altobelli-mauser-chester-zobayan/2511810/

https://www.foxla.com/news/one-year-later-honoring-the-9-victims-of-the-calabasas-helicopter-crash

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