All nine victims in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant have officially been identified, as has the cause of death for everyone on board: blunt force trauma. In a statement from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Wednesday night, blunt force trauma was confirmed as the cause of death for all the victims. Earlier this week, that had been confirmed as the cause of death for just two of the victims.
Following "round-the-clock testing and analysis of DNA," the department officially identified Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Christina Mauser as the remaining five victims. Their next of kin was notified before the department released their names.
On Tuesday, the department released the identities of the other four crash victims: John Altobelli (Alyssa's dad and Keri's husband), Kobe Bryant (Gianna's dad), Sarah Chester (Payton's mom) and Ara Zobayan (the pilot).
The group had reportedly been traveling on the helicopter Sunday morning to attend a Gianna, Payton and Alyssa's basketball tournament at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy. Bryant and Mauser were both basketball coaches.
The department also confirmed that the manner of death was certified as an accident.
While it's unclear what officially caused the crash of the aircraft that was piloted by a veteran flyer, the foggy conditions of the morning that caused authorities to ground their own helicopters that day likely played a large factor.
Although the chopper was flying under "Special Visual Flight Rules," which allows it to fly in severe weather conditions, experts are theorizing that weather issues caused the crash. The helicopter reportedly ran into weather issues when it was flying only 875 feet in the air above the Los Angeles Zoo. Zobayan, the pilot, connected Burbank Airport's control tower at 9:30 a.m. PT, then moved along the 118 freeway before turning west to follow the 101 freeway. The pilot then flew into heavy fog and climbed up to 2,000 feet to avoid the cloud cover. Shortly after that, the helicopter crashed into the mountains at 1,700 feet.
Wednesday evening, Bryant's wife and Gianna's mother, Vanessa Bryant, broke her silence and described the unfathomable pain she and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months, were going through.
"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them," she captioned a photo of the family of six, adding that they were "completely devastated" by the tragedy.
"I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved."
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"We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon," her emotional message continued. "I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that's to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever."
She ended her statement by thanking everyone who has shown her family love, and asked that fans help the families of the other victims of the crash by donating to MambaOnThree.org, which is a new fund set up by Kobe's charitable foundation, the Mamba Sports Foundation. She said that fans can also support Kobe and Gianna's legacy by visiting MambaSportsFoundation.org.