FBI joins investigation in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
Because of fog and poor visibility, the Los Angeles police and county sheriff’s departments had grounded their helicopters.Updated: Jan 27, 2020 22:53 IST
A growing investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others aboard a Sikorsky S-76B will include the FBI and focus primarily on weather conditions and potential mechanical issues.
Because of fog and poor visibility, the Los Angeles police and county sheriff’s departments had grounded their helicopters.
Aviation officials told the Los Angeles Times a twin-engine failure in the S-76B was highly unlikely.
Bryant’s helicopter departed Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PST. The helicopter crashed in heavy fog, according to witness accounts.
The helicopter transporting Bryant on Sunday is the same model in use during two fatal crashes in Louisiana in 2009 and 2013. The National Transportation Safety Board released information on the investigations and found a fractured rotor blade to be the cause of the 2013 crash that killed three on board. The 2009 crash was caused by a collision with a red-tailed hawk, shattering the helicopter windshield and causing fuel monitors to fail.
It is standard practice for the FBI to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in crash investigations.
Bryant’s helicopter was built in 1991 and had no other incident reports on file with either organization.
A recovery effort at the crash site is expected to take several days. A 5-mile no-fly zone was set up by the FAA.
The pilot and eight passengers were killed. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, who played on the same club team as Gianna Bryant, also were killed. Christina Mauser, who was the top assistant coach of the Mamba girls’ basketball team, was also killed in the accident.