It was originally reported that 5 people were aboard the chopper, but soon authorities revealed there were 9 victims of the tragic crash. All 9 passengers have been identified.
The City of Calabassas originally issued the following statement regarding the crash:
“With great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash.”
“The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10 am this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt.
TMZ was first to report that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, aged thirteen, tragically died in the crash. The father and daughter were reportedly on their way to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice, nearby Thousand Oaks.
However, we have now learned that 9 individuals were killed and their identities have been released.
Also aboard the chopper were, Orange Coast College baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and one of their two daughters, Alyssa.
Alyssa Altobelli played on the same team as Kobe’s teenage daughter.
“My kids and I are devastated.
“We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.”
Sarah Chester and her teenage daughter, Payton also passed away. Todd Schmidt, school principal at Harbor View Elementary, paid tribute to the pair, describing them as “two gorgeous human beings.”
The pilot was also killed. He has been identified as Ara Zobayan.
Multiple federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, have joined local authorities in their efforts to understand what caused the helicopter to slam into a hillside, killing all nine people aboard.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Sunday evening that foggy conditions could have played a role.
We do know there was an issue with visibility and a low ceiling. The actual conditions at the time of impact, that is still yet to be determined.
Villanueva added that the L.A. Sheriff’s office did not have any helicopters flying “because of the weather.” The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating more details on what caused the crash, which Villanueva predicted is “going to take not just days but weeks.”