Kobe Bryant was killed on Sunday morning when his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
The retired Los Angeles Lakers star, one of the best NBA players of all time, was accompanied by his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in the accident, E! News has confirmed. Police said in a press conference that according to the flight manifest, nine people were on board the aircraft. They said there were no survivors. As of Sunday afternoon, authorities have only named Kobe as one of the victims. The crash remains under investigation.
CNN reported that Kobe and Gianna, aka Gigi, were expected at his Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Newbury Park, where the teen was set to play in a basketball game and where he serves as coach. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, one of Gianna’s basketball teammates, were also killed in the crash, E! News confirmed.
Kobe was married to Vanessa Bryant and in addition to Gianna, they had three other daughters—Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and 7-month-old baby Capri.
The Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed not far from a water plant, amid foggy conditions. A brush fire erupted at the crash site and firefighters had to hike up the hillside to extinguish it while other emergency workers searched the wreckage for survivors. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department posted on Twitter photos of the aftermath.
“We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant,” the National Basketball Players Association said in a statement. “Words cannot express his impact on our players, the NBA and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family.”
A statement from the University of Houston’s Vice President of Athletics also mourned Altobelli, who played for the Cougars and graduated from the college in 1987. It read, “The Houston Athletics family is saddened today by the passing of John Altobelli. John served as a team captain for our baseball program during his time as a student-athlete at UH and worked tirelessly as a coach at Orange Coast College for the last 28 years, developing many players that had the opportunity to play for our university. Our thoughts and prayers will be with John’s family in the days ahead.
Scores of fans have flocked to the crash site, many wearing Lakers shirts and waving team flags from their cars, and heavy traffic was reported on the nearest road, which is usually nearly empty on weekends.
Fans also flocked to the Mamba Sports Academy and Downtown Los Angeles’ Staples Center, home of the Lakers.
Source: E! News