Bodies being recovered from scene of Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
The bodies of the victims of the helicopter crash that killed basketball player Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others on Sunday have started to be recovered.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion who played for the LA Lakers throughout his 20-year career.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, LA County sheriff Alex Villanueva said the difficult terrain of the hillside crash site meant it would take some time for all of the victims’ bodies to be recovered and officially identified.
“The coroner… started recovering human remains last night and they’re continuing (that process) for the next several days,” he said.
“It’s rugged terrain and it’s a very steep hill. In fact, they had to bulldoze a road just to get a normal-size vehicle to the location, so it is very difficult.
“The first responders were air-dropped there, (which) kind of gives you an idea of the nature of the terrain.
“It’s a very difficult task and it’s going to take a while, so be patient.”
It has also been revealed that the helicopter pilot, who has been identified as Ara Zobayan, was an “experienced pilot” with more than eight thousand hours of flight time.
“The pilot had a commercial certificate. He was a certified flight instructor,” Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
“(As of) July 2019, he had 8,200 hours of flight time. It’s an experienced pilot.”
According to the NTSB, Mr Zobayan told air traffic controllers in his last radio message that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.
The pilot received special clearance to fly in heavy fog in the minutes before the crash and was flying at 1,400 feet.
Radar data revealed he then climbed to 2,300 feet before beginning a left descending turn.
“Last radar contact was around 9.45am and is consistent with the accident location,” Ms Homendy said.
“There wasn’t a black box and there isn’t (a) requirement to have a black box (but) we’ll be looking at other avionics on the aircraft to see what information we can gather.
“I anticipate that we’ll have more factual information to share tomorrow.
“I do anticipate we will be here five days on-scene to collect perishable evidence. We’re going to continue to document the scene.
“We are not here to determine the cause of the accident. We will not determine that on-scene.”