One question reverberating in the minds of the community today: why?
Following the tragic death of NBA legend and family man Kobe Bryant, many are wondering what exactly happened in the moments leading up to the fatal crash.
According to reports, Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died when the chopper crashed into a hillside in southern California at about 9:45 am on Sunday. There were no survivors.
According to what a spokesman told the LA Times, it is unlikely that engine failure caused the crash and pointed to weather conditions as the most likely culprit.
Kurt Deetz, a former pilot for Island Express Helicopters who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said weather conditions were poor in Van Nuys on Sunday morning — “not good at all.”
The crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues, he said. “The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn’t happen,” he said.
Judging from a public record of the flight path and the wide debris field, Deetz said, it appears the helicopter was traveling very fast at the time of impact, about 160 mph. After a 40-minute flight, Deetz added, the craft would have had about 800 pounds of fuel on board. “That’s enough to start a pretty big fire,” he said.
ESPN also reports a climb and rapid dive made by the aircraft as it was headed towards its fatal end.
Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the helicopter turned again, toward the southeast, and climbed to more than 2,000 feet above sea level. It then descended and crashed into a hillside at about 1,400 feet, according to data from Flightradar24.
When it struck the ground, the helicopter was flying at about 160 knots (184 mph) and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute (45 mph), the Flightradar24 data showed.
The following is a detailed layout of the events leading up to the crash:
The helicopter was held up to allow for other aircraft and circled for about 15 minutes until it got clearance from air traffic controllers to continue.
The controllers mention poor visibility around the Burbank and Van Nuys areas, but the pilot talks to controllers normally before communication suddenly goes dead near the crash site at Calabasas.
"You're still too low level for flight following at this time," the pilot is told.
Seconds later, the helicopter disappears from radar.
It was travelling at speed - 153knots (176mph) - when it crashed into the hillside, according to tracking site Flightradar24.
The world is seeking answers in the aftermath of the tragedy. And though there are still many questions regarding what happened yesterday, authorities are beginning to piece together the puzzle.
Bad flying conditions put everyone on that chopper in a dangerous situation and, unfortunately, there wasn't much that could have been done once things took a turn for the worst.
Among the victims (that we know of so far) with Kobe and GiGi were college head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, along with girls coach Christina Mauser.
We hope for peace and closure in the dark time for the Bryant family and all those affected by the devastating crash.